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California Bill Would Create New Low Income Health Program

A bill before California lawmakers this week would create a new publicly-funded health plan for low-income residents. Creating a ‘basic health program’ is a state option under the federal health law. It would cover some of the people otherwise eligible for California’s health benefit exchange.

Ken Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Labor Center did an analysis of the plan. He says the program would be more affordable than the health exchange, which could result in more people covered overall. 

But, he says, it would remove hundreds of thousands of people from the health insurance exchange, "which would limit the exchange’s bargaining power in the market, and importantly may affect its ability to generate reforms that would lower the rate of premium cost growth over time."

The Labor Center analysis was commissioned by the California Health Benefit Exchange, which opposed the bill last year. The bill will be heard in an Assembly Committee tomorrow.