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CA healthcare reform moves ahead of Supreme Court ruling

March 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Michelle Morgan is one of thousands, if not millions, of Californians who are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act.

Her 4-year-old son has asthma and a private insurer has already denied him coverage because of his pre-existing condition. The mother of three hopes she will never be put in that position again because federal healthcare reform forces insurers to stop denying coverage to sick kids.

"It is peace of mind," Morgan said. "We would have other options, that we could call Kaiser or we could call Blue Shield and we could fill out an application and not have to stress."

Among the other changes, more than 350,000 young adults can now be on their parents health insurance until the age of 26 and nearly the same number of seniors got significant help with prescription drugs.

Despite the fight over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act at the U.S. Supreme Court, California is moving full steam ahead to implement a crucial part of it called the California Health Benefit Exchange, where millions of uninsured residents can buy insurance beginning in 2014.

Healthcare and state leaders discussed the changes still to come and said they believe the state can get there, putting California at the forefront.

"Millions of Californians who have been uninsured will be able to have the security of knowing when they get ill or injured, they will have somewhere to go and they will not go into bankruptcy as a result," said Diana Dooley, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), who has a bill to nullify the federal healthcare reform in California, said leaders should wait until the justices rule on the constitutionality.

"California right now, they're like a little (Ford) Pinto driving in front of the snow plow," he said. "They're on a dangerous road and they have no business being there."

An estimated 7 million Californians are uninsured. Dooley said that's why the California Health Benefit Exchange will be available regardless of what the high court rules.


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