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Life Health > Health Insurance

Covered California faces post-election questions

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Members of the board of Covered California are reacting cautiously to the results of the Nov. 8 elections.

The Affordable Care Act public exchange headed into the individual major medical open enrollment period for 2017 providing coverage access for 1.3 million people, or about 3 percent of all state residents.

Board members and other speakers noted several times during a meeting today that Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, signed the bill that helped bring Covered California to life.

Diana Dooley, the board chairwoman, said she has tried to avoid speculating about how the law might change in the future.

“Where we might headed is a little hard to answer,” Dooley said. “I think we have more questions than answers.”

The exchange already has 2017 contracts in place with the exchange plan issuers, Dooley said.

“We will continue to honor those as the law allows,” Dooley said.

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Dooley said Covered California has tried to be nimble, and responsive to local needs, and she expressed the hope that the exchange might be able to advise policymakers.

Open enrollment 2017

The open enrollment period for 2017 started Nov. 1 and is set to run until Jan. 31.

Peter Lee, the exchange executive director, reported that, as of Nov. 8, the exchange had relationships with 14,580 certified insurance agents, 2,244 certified application counselors and 1,488 certified plan-based enrollers.

The exchange held off on its marketing campaigns until after the election was over, but it has received applications from 44,000 people who are new to Covered California.

About 263,000 current Covered California plan holders have taken active steps to renew or change their coverage, Lee said.

Representatives from the California Association of Health Plans and the California Association of Health Underwriters, which are both based in Sacramento, California, appeared to say they want to continue to work with California health policymakers.

Athena Chapman, who spoke for the health plans, told the board, “CAHP stands ready to work with policymakers to ensure that Californians have access to high-quality, affordable care into 2017 and beyond.”

Michael Lujan, a CAHP representative who once worked for Covered California, said many agents are gearing up to help the exchange with open enrollment.

“We’re grateful to be at the table and part of the discussion” about protecting Californians access to coverage, Lujan said.

Ed Hernandez, a California state senator who lives in West Covina, California, appeared at the hearing to say that he is an optometrist as well as a legislator.

Recently, he said, he gave an eye exam to a man in his 50s who could not remember ever having seen a doctor before. The man sought care only because he gained health coverage through an Affordable Care Act coverage expansion program, and only because he had flunked a vision test while applying to renew his driver’s license. Hernandez said he found that the man had diabetes and sent him to get care.

California lawmakers “stand ready to fight to keep what is working in this state,” Hernandez told the Covered California board.


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