California Community

Five Years of California Health Reform: ‘A Tremendous Designed Experiment’

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
03/26/15  12:04 AM PST
California Healthline

By David Gorn for California Healthline Sacramento Bureau

Nadereh Pourat, director of research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, gives an involuntary gasp when she’s asked where California’s health care system would be without the reforms and changes of the past five years.

“It’s not fathomable,” Pourat said. “I don’t know where we would be right now. California has made tremendous progress. It’s staggering what has happened in five years.”

The state has launched the Covered California health benefit exchange, which has helped enroll 1.4 million into coverage. The Medi-Cal program has added 2.7 million more beneficiaries and now provides health services for more than 12 million Californians, or about one-third of the state’s population. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

On top of all of that, California has shifted almost 80% of its beneficiaries away from a fee-for-service system into Medi-Cal managed care plans. It did all of this during one of the worst recessions in recent memory.

Five years ago the health care system in California was nearing crisis levels, said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California.

“We had a status quo that was rapidly deteriorating,” he said. “California was on the top 10 list for the highest percentages of the uninsured. The trend lines of coverage were going down, costs were going up.”

Read the Full Article at California Healthline.