The ACA covered millions of people and reduced the racial and ethnic disparities in health coverage in California; to take away these coverage options especially during a global pandemic and recession would exacerbate racial and ethnic inequality in California.
Laurel Lucia is director of the Health Care Program at the Labor Center, where she has worked since 2009 analyzing health care policy. Recent papers have examined the impact of rising health care costs for workers in California, shifts in health coverage during COVID-19, health coverage and economic impacts of Affordable Care Act repeal on California, California’s Medicaid expansion, health insurance for California immigrants, and the remaining uninsured in California. She also analyzes the economic impact of public policy changes. Her work has been covered in the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, and National Public Radio. Previously, Laurel worked on issues affecting health care workers as a researcher/policy analyst for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She has served as an elected officer for two unions. Laurel holds a Master of Public Policy from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor’s in Public Policy from Stanford University.
The ACA expanded coverage options available to low-income Californians and unemployed workers; to take away those options during a global pandemic and recession would compound the hardships faced by low-income households.
Overturning the ACA would reduce annual federal funding to California by $28.8 billion in 2022, the year of focus for this analysis. Many Californians’ jobs are also at stake should the ACA be overturned. California would be projected to have 269,000 fewer jobs, $29.3 billion less in state GDP, and $2.2 billion less in state and local tax revenue, compared to if the ACA remains in effect.
“If the ACA is overturned, policymakers would be facing a lot of hard decisions about how to respond,” Lucia said. “Over $28 billion in federal funding would be very difficult for the state to replace.”
The fate of the Affordable Care Act will be decided by the Supreme Court in November, plus Trump’s nominee
Interview with Laurel Lucia on “What Losing the Affordable Care Act Could Mean for Californians.”
Enrollment could also be lagging because the service industry has been hit hard, and many low-income workers in restaurants, bars or salons were already enrolled in Medi-Cal. “About a quarter who were at risk of losing jobs were already enrolled when the crisis started,” said Laurel Lucia.
Laurel Lucia, director of the health care program at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, says some people will still face a fine. “I think it’s worth exploring whether a temporary exemption is needed for Californians who have lost coverage due to COVID-related hardship, but are not eligible for one of the existing exemptions,” she said.