The Madeleine Brand Show for March 29, 2012

How will California react if the health care bill is overturned?

Thousands Attend Free Temporary Health Clinic In Los Angeles

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

People visit a free health clinic at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California. The clinic operated by CareNow LA, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit group, served nearly 5,000 uninsured and underinsured people over four days.

The fate of the health care law now lies in the hands of the nine Supreme Court justices. Now that arguments and hearings have concluded, the case moves behind closed doors. A decision by the Court is expected by June.

In the meantime, California has already taken aggressive steps to implement parts of the law.

"You hear about political gridlock in Sacramento, but that has not been the case with health reform," said Christina Jewett, health reporter for California Watch. "Lawmakers have passed more than 11 laws since health reform came into play on the federal scene. And those are some things that require insurers to cover kids with preexisting conditions, it set up a healthcare exchange so that people can buy lower cost plans and it also worked with the federal government to start implementing health reform early."

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that California expects to spend up to $6.5 billion from 2014 to 2019 on health care. In turn, California will receive $45 billion to $55 billion in federal matching dollars.
"That's billions of dollars that would go to doctors to clinics to hospitals to really cover people who haven't previously been insured," explained Jewett.

California already has begun to overhaul its Medi-Cal program in anticipation of the influx of new patients, says Jewett. The state is relying more heavily on managed care plans to reduce costs and provide comprehensive care.

"The question of political will is there as it stands in California. The will is there, but is the money there?" said Jewett. "There are deep cuts in the budget for Medi-Cal but the money that's supposed to come in a couple years is what everyone's looking for."

Guest:

Christina Jewett covers Health for California Watch, funded by the Center for Investigative Reporting.


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