With about 7 million Californians uninsured, nearly 20 percent of the population, the Golden State wins big under the Supreme Court ruling that upholds the Affordable Care Act.
- As much as $15 billion per year in new federal funding is slated to arrive to help implement it.
- Bridge insurance programs that now cover low-income people and those with pre-existing conditions will remain intact until health care reform is fully implemented.
- And the California Health Benefits Exchange 2014 can proceed to set up a marketplace for consumers to buy affordable insurance and maybe even get subsidies.
Director Peter Lee says the exchange could start pre-enrolling in about 18 months.
"We have an opportunity to change health care for the future," said Lee. "To do that, we need to get everyone in the tent to get everyone insured."
Sandy Adams couldn't believe the ruling. She can now take comfort in knowing that her grown daughter who has epilepsy will never be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition when she buys insurance from the health exchange.
"It was just a huge profound relief," said Adams. "And the hope's back again that maybe this is going to be OK for my daughter and others."
But critics still have their doubts. There are no price controls and the Affordable Care Act requires California to spend up to $6 billion over five years to expand Medi-Cal, the health care program for the poor.
Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Chico) is thinking about a ballot measure to prevent California from further implementing President Obama's plan because the state doesn't have the money.
"It's going to come from the universities. It's going to come from the schools. It's going to come from law enforcement," said Logue. "So we could have the greatest health care system in the world, but we won't have any schools."
The California Endowment says California families pay an average of $1,400 extra per year in premiums to cover the medical bills of the uninsured.