San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage

Voices for Reform
Working Together Towards a Healthier Community

October 7, 2010


San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage (SDHCC) is a coalition for health, the trusted community leader and unbiased resource: Convening the community, providing the voice, and serving as the navigator to achieve optimal health coverage and care for all San Diegans.

Healthcare in the News

About 3.5 Million Californians Eligible for Health Tax Credits in 2014
October 6, 2010, California

About 3.5 million Californians could be eligible for federal tax credits to reduce their health insurance costs when they purchase coverage through the state's health insurance exchange, according to a new report from the advocacy group Families USA, the Los Angeles Times reports (Helfand, Los Angeles Times, 10/5).

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed legislation (AB 1602 and SB 900) to lay the foundation for the California Health Benefit Exchange. The federal health care reform law calls for the creation of such exchanges to offer a marketplace of health insurance options for individuals and small businesses (California Healthline, 10/1).

The reform law also includes tax credits to help offset a portion of premium costs for low- and middle-income residents who obtain coverage through state-based health insurance exchanges.

In California, about 3,473,000 residents would be eligible for the tax credit, including about 1,741,200 residents who currently lack health insurance, according to the Families USA report.

ECONOMY: Almost one-third of county's working families struggling.
Single person needs full-time job paying $13.13 an hour to get by.
September 2, 2010 By Pat Maio, North County Times 
Nearly a third of households with wage earners in San Diego County have incomes below what they need to meet basic living expenses, according to a study released Thursday by the Center on Policy Initiatives and United Way of San Diego County.  Half of those struggling households include someone with a full-time job.

The study, called "Making Ends Meet in San Diego County 2010," measured local costs of housing, child care, food and other basic expenses to determine a no-frills budget for various-sized families. It did not include nonessential costs such as entertainment, cable TV, toys, life insurance or savings.

One conclusion: A single person without dependents needs a full-time job paying $13.13 an hour, or $27,700 a year, to make ends meet in San Diego County.

Much of the data was gleaned from a statewide study conducted by the United Way of the Bay Area, which shared the data locally with the Center for Policy Initiatives. The center is a nonprofit research and advocacy center dedicated to the interests of working people in the San Diego region.

"Unfortunately, the data isn't that shocking," said Shaina Gross, community impact manager with United Way of San Diego.

"It's a huge number of people who aren't making enough, but this is what we are hearing from our clients anecdotally and from the community-based organizations who serve the clients.
Read More >

HHS Exempts 30 Groups from Reform Law Rule on Health Benefits Cap
October 6, 2010, California Healthline
Last month, HHS granted waivers to 30 companies and groups, exempting them for one year from a provision in the federal health reform law that prohibits caps on health benefits, Bloomberg reports.

Such caps set an annual limit on the amount a health plan covers, and the employee is responsible for all costs beyond the cap.

The 30 companies and groups include fast-food chains McDonald's and Jack in the Box, and the United Agricultural Benefit Trust. The groups receiving the waivers offer low-cost health plans -- often called "mini-med" plans -- to low-wage, seasonal or part-time workers. Nearly one million individuals will be affected.

Without the waivers, the companies would have had to provide at least $750,000 in coverage in 2011, up to $1.25 million in 2012, $2 million in 2013 and unlimited coverage in 2014.
Read More >

California Becomes First State To Create Health Benefit Exchange
October 1, 2010, California Healthline
On Thursday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed two bills that will make California the first state to establish a health insurance exchange under the federal health reform law, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.  Thursday was the last day for the governor to sign and veto all pending legislation.

AB 1602, by Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D- Los Angeles), and SB 900, by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D- Santa Clara), will provide the foundation for the California Health Benefit Exchange. The exchange will offer a marketplace of health insurance options for individuals and small businesses, as required under the federal reform law . 
Read More >


Health Care’s Uneven Road to a New Era
October 5, 2010 By DAVID LEONHARDT, New York Times
Consider what it would be like to have a health insurance plan that capped annual benefits at $2,000. For any medical care costing more than that, you would have to pay out of pocket. 
Examples of care that costs more than $2,000 — and often a lot more — include virtually any cancer treatment, any heart surgery, a year’s worth of diabetes treatment and care for many broken bones. Even a single M.R.I. exam can cost more than $2,000. A typical hospital stay runs thousands of dollars more.

So does this insurance plan sound like part of the solution for the country’s health care system — or part of the problem?  A $2,000 plan happens to be one of the main plans that McDonald’s offers its employees. It became big news last week, when The Wall Street Journal reported that the company was worried the plan would run afoul of a provision in the new health care law. In response to the provision, McDonald’s threatened to drop the coverage altogether, until the Obama administration signaled it would grant some exemptions.

This episode was only the latest disruption that the health law seems to be causing. Also last week, the Principal Financial Group said it was getting out of the health insurance business, while other insurers have said they might stop offering certain types of coverage. With each new disruption come loud claims — some from insurance executives — that the health overhaul is damaging American health care.

On the surface, these claims can sound credible. But when you dig a little deeper, you often discover the same lesson that the McDonald’s case provides: the real problem was the status quo.
Read More >

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