POLITICO Pro, a subscription-based policy news service, featured L.A. Care CEO John Baackes in "California's quest to cover undocumented hinges on cost concerns". The article talks about efforts by California lawmakers to extend Medi-Cal coverage to all low-income California adults regardless of immigration status. These efforts include two bills, SB 974 (Lara) and AB 2965 (Arambula).
This will get bipartisan support because it’s one way of addressing the last cohort of uninsured people in California.
CEO, L.A. Care
The piece reports that about 1.2 million residents would qualify for Medi-Cal under this policy, and that the primary debate will be over cost. The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates a cost of three billion dollars, on top of Medi-Cal's current $100 billion budget. Opponents are concerned about California's uncertain long-term financial outlook and risks of committing to such costs, which they also believe would result in higher taxes.
Supporters argue that the true cost has to factor other criteria, including increased productivity and improved community health. They include one of the bill's authors, Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who stated, "We are trying to address the fact that, whether you like it or not, our undocumented community needs the care, and we are paying for it anyway." Micah Weinberg, president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, added, "But just because we have bad immigration policy does not mean we shouldn’t have good health policy. And truly universal coverage is good health policy."
About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan is a public entity and community-accountable health plan serving residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of health coverage programs including L.A. Care Covered™, Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan. L.A. Care is a leader in developing new programs through innovative partnerships designed to provide health coverage to vulnerable populations and to support the safety net. With more than 2 million members, L.A. Care is the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.