Hearing Will Target Launch of Exchange

by David Gorn

TOPIC ALERT:

The Assembly Committee on Health today will convene a hearing on the readiness of Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, which is set to launch its first enrollment period next week.

Years of planning have gone into setting up the exchange, and its enrollment season runs from Oct. 1 through Apr. 1, 2014. Californians who enroll now for subsidized health insurance through the exchange will start receiving coverage benefits on Jan. 1, 2014.

Today's hearing will look at the exchange's readiness, said Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), as potentially millions of Californians could inquire about the program in the next few months.  

"We worked with Covered California to have this hearing on the eve of the enrollment period," Pan said, "to inform people about the status of the enrollment process, which will be up and running for enrollment on Oct. 1."

Covered California will be joined by Toby Douglas -- director of the Department of Health Care Services, which is working in collaboration with the exchange to properly promote and handle all the details of enrolling so many Californians, both though the exchange and through the state's Medi-Cal expansion. Medi-Cal is California's version of Medicaid. Under the Affordable Care Act, federal funding will allow the state to open Medi-Cal enrollment to Californians with incomes up to 138% of federal poverty level.

"We want to hear from Covered California about their readiness for enrollment," Pan said.

That includes testimony from health insurers, consumer advocates, provider groups and other stakeholders in the massive public health insurance project.

"We are hoping to hear that things are moving on track and on schedule [at the exchange]," Pan said. "We feel this is vitally important for the public, for California and for the Assembly. We want to keep the public apprised of the progress of this effort to get more people health care coverage in California."


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