On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) sent legislative leaders a letter saying that he plans to call a special legislative session at the end of the year focused on implementing the federal health reform law, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
Among other provisions, the reform law calls for states by 2014 to expand Medicaid coverage (Siders, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/17).
States have the option of expanding Medicaid coverage to individuals with incomes of up to 133% of the poverty level. The law’s Medicaid expansion provision also will expand coverage to low-income adults who have no children (California Healthline, 7/16).
The reform law also requires states to launch health insurance exchanges by 2014. California plans to launch an online exchange that primarily will serve individuals and small businesses.
An estimated 4.4 million California residents are expected to use the exchange by the end of 2016. Officials plan to open registration for the exchange in October 2013 (California Healthline, 8/3).
Details of Special Session
In the letter to lawmakers, Brown wrote, "We will work with you to complete what we can in the current session, but many important issues and questions" about reform law provisions "cannot be addressed or answered without further guidance from the federal government and additional analysis to understand the interrelationship of the decisions we must make."
Diana Dooley -- California Health and Human Services Secretary -- said that the session will begin in December or January 2013 and will run concurrently with the regular legislative session.
She said that she suggested the session to provide state officials with enough time to implement reform law provisions once the federal government provides more guidelines.
Laws passed during the special session would take effect in 90 days, according to "Capitol Alert."
Dooley said, "It's a very ambitious agenda, a lot to do in a short amount of time, but we have really been breaking our necks to stay on course, and I think we are" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 8/17).
On Friday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on Brown's call for the special session ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 8/17).