June 13, 2011

The Honorable Edward Hernandez
Chair, Senate Health Committee
State Capitol, Room 2191
Sacramento, CA 95814

            Re:            AB 714 (Atkins) – Support

Dear Senator Hernandez:

Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, writes to express our support for AB 714. This bill would allow for a smooth glide path to health insurance enrollment for Californians currently receiving some sort of subsidized healthcare or coverage, in preparation for full implementation of health reform in 2014.

Health reform will mean that an estimated 5 million Californians will be eligible for new health insurance coverage options by 2014. The array of new options will mean that a large-scale information effort is needed to inform Californians of the upcoming choices. In addition, a wealth of information currently exists identifying those Californians most likely to be eligible for subsidized or free coverage. Medi-Cal coverage for the newly eligible will be 100% federally funded for the first several years. So, getting those eligible covered as quickly as possible will support their health needs and maximize federal dollars for the State of California.

This bill serves these needs in two ways. First, as to information needs, under the bill starting in 2012 consumers will receive advance notice about the Health Benefits Exchange and the Medi-Cal expansion. Secondly, to expedite enrollment, starting in 2013 AB 714 would pre-enroll those identified as eligible through their connection to another publicly-funded health program such as Family PACT or AIM; through receiving charity care from a hospital; or through their imminent “aging off” Medi-Cal or Healthy Families. The bill also affords individuals the right to opt out of receiving whatever coverage they are determined to be eligible for.

We, therefore, respectfully urge your “aye” vote on AB 714, taking it off “suspense”, in order to ease administrative burden for consumers and the state in securing health insurance coverage in California, and to ensure that the state maximizes receipt of federal funds therefore.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Imholz
Special Projects Director

cc:            Members, Senate Health Committee
Assembly Member Toni Atkins