On Wednesday, a panel of health policy experts testified to a joint session of the Assembly and Senate health committees about the challenges the state will face in implementing the new federal health reform law, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/13).
Marian Mulkey, senior program officer at the California HealthCare Foundation, said that after the law takes effect, about two million residents could remain uninsured by choice or because they do not qualify for government assistance. CHCF is the publisher of California Healthline.
Mulkey noted that an additional two million residents could qualify for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, under the reform law. Although the federal government will cover costs for newly eligible enrollees, Mulkey said the state still could face difficulty paying for its share of current enrollees (Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 5/13).
Lawmakers also heard from John Kingsdale, executive director of Massachusetts Health Connector, the agency that administers a health insurance exchange under Massachusetts' 2006 health care reform law.
Kingsdale said California should move quickly to set up a health insurance exchange by 2014, as required under the federal reform law. He said the exchange should offer well-known plans and make it easy for consumers to compare insurance options (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/13).