Assemblyman Perez proposes health coverage for the uninsured in California

FILE PHOTO 2013 - Manuel Perez at Del Rio CC during a tour of Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Plants
FILE PHOTO 2013 – Manuel Perez at Del Rio CC during a tour of Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Plants

(SACRAMENTO) – Tuesday, a bill by State Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez to provide coverage for uninsured workers not covered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was approved by the Assembly Committee on Health with a vote of 11-5.


 Bill now moves to Assembly Appropriations

“We are facing a major health crisis among our lowest income workers who lack access to care in our state,” said Pérez. “AB 175 is a concrete and practical step to bridge this gap.  Stakeholders agree that access to health care makes our state stronger, and we are committed to making this proposal a viable solution for our uncovered workers.”

AB 175 establishes an Uncovered Worker Health Care Trust Fund, which would be the repository for private contributions from employers whose workers are not eligible for the ACA, as well as contributions from charitable and philanthropic organizations. The dollars in the Fund would then be used to contract health care services with nonprofit community health centers that already serve the uninsured.  Uninsured employees of participating employers would then be eligible to access health care services from these nonprofit health centers.

“The situation facing the workers ineligible for the ACA and Medi-Cal is dire and their health status will only worsen the longer they lack access to care,” said Arnoldo Torres, a policy consultant who spoke at the hearing on behalf of the bill’s sponsors. “We applaud Assemblyman Pérez for taking the initiative to move this legislation in a practical and responsible manner that recognizes the responsibility of employers, employees, and philanthropic entities to take action that can measurably reduce future health problems and costs of workers who contribute to California’s economy and well-being.”

The proposal is sponsored by the Borrego Community Health Foundation, Clinicas de Salud del Valle de Salinas, and Clinicas del Camino Real.  Supporters include:  Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Southern Trinity Health Services, the California Mental Health Directors Association, California Council of Mental Health Agencies, American Academy of Pediatrics, and California Congress of Seniors.  It is also a priority bill of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

Despite all the benefits the ACA offers for increasing access to care in California, reliable studies report that even after its full implementation, the state will still be facing a major health insurance gap for the lowest income workers and undocumented immigrant populations in our state.  According to a 2012 report by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, even after the full implementation of the ACA, at least three million Californians are expected to remain uninsured.

The bill heads now to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.