Contingency Planning Amid ACA Uncertainty

Los Angeles County’s Health Care Reform Working Group testifying before the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 15. All photos by Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors

Statement by Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas on Contingency Planning amid efforts to Repeal the Affordable Care Act

I would like to thank all members of this healthcare reform task force for their hard work on this important topic.

While Congress is not actively discussing “repeal” legislation, that could change at any moment. For that reason, this remains an issue we are taking very seriously in LA County.

Let me begin by stating, unequivocally, that I am committed to doing everything within my power to maintain the hard-fought gains we’ve made under the ACA in LA County, regardless of what Congress ends up doing.

Let’s review the facts. Though far from perfect, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – Obamacare – has greatly expanded healthcare coverage in Los Angeles County. According to the presentation we just heard:

The uninsured rate in our County dropped from approximately 21% of residents in 2013 prior to ACA implementation to about 11% in 2015.

Altogether, approximately 1.2 million individuals gained Medi-Cal coverage via the ACA in LA County and an additional 380,000 individuals received subsidized coverage through Covered California, the State-based insurance exchange.

Those who were covered include many of the poorest and most vulnerable residents of Los Angeles, including a large proportion of children, as well as the working poor.

As of May 2017, more than 70,000 undocumented children 0-19 years of age have gained health coverage thanks to passage of SB 75.

Additionally, nationwide, the ACA has increased minimum health benefits, and access to preventative care, women’s health services, and other essential health benefits like emergency care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and out-of-network services.

It has also prohibited health plans from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

In doing so, the ACA has raised the bar on health care for not just the newly insured, but for everyone.

I would like to commend our County Health Agency, as well as the numerous community groups, advocates, private clinics and hospitals, and others who helped get the word out to ensure those who were eligible got covered.

These advances are precisely what is at stake with efforts to repeal Obamacare. Put simply, if repeal legislation were to be passed, the state of California would risk losing billions of healthcare dollars annually. This would put at risk the major advances in health care coverage and access that have occurred over the past few years.

I am heartened to learn that many others within the state, including my colleagues here on the Board of Supervisors, feel as I do that the ACA has been a very good thing for LA County, and that we should do everything within our power to maintain the gains we’ve made.

If the ACA ends up being repealed – which I very much hope it won’t be – I am glad to hear our leaders within LA County have been working hard to develop contingency plans.

While there are many nuances still being worked out, it is clear to me that our healthcare reform working group has put forth some important ideas that could help mitigate the potential effects of “repeal”, and improve healthcare for the residents of LA County regardless of the outcome.

For this reason, I would like to use this as an opportunity to read-in a motion recognizing the hard work our County leaders have done to develop contingency plans should “repeal” occur.

This motion would also establish a process for ensuring that the recommendations this group comes up with in collaboration with statewide stakeholders come to the Board for consideration in a timely way.

I want to conclude by stating, unequivocally, that I believe healthcare is a basic human right that ought to transcend politics. Too many people suffer and die without that right.

Thank you.

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