A Health Access sponsored bill, AB 714, introduced on February 17, 2012, aims to automatically enroll hundreds of thousands or even possibly millions of Californians in the California Health Benefit Exchange with coverage to begin on the first day of business, January 1, 2014.
The majority of these Californians are currently enrolled in Healthy Families, AIM (Access for Infants and Mothers), MRMIP, PCIP, cancer screening programs and other public coverage programs. Between these programs, there are up to 1.5 million Californians eligible for pre-enrollment.
The bill would make the automatic enrollment of those individuals in the Exchange subject to the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Public Health, and the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board receiving approval from the United States Department of Health and Human Services to transfer the minimum information necessary to initiate an application for enrollment in the Exchange.
The bill would require each affected individual to be given the opportunity to provide informed consent to commence eligibility determination and complete enrollment, but would provide that failure to consent or to respond would be construed to mean the individual is declining coverage.
According to Anthony Wright of Health Access, “On day 1 - January 1, 2014 - we should have millions of Californians enrolled in coverage. We’ve already had LIHPs (Low Income Health Plans) enrolling 300,000 or more of the state’s most vulnerable populations. We can say with confidence that ACA means the LIHP enrollees will have coverage. Federal dollars will begin to cover enrollees in 2013 so there’s an incentive to enroll as many as possible now.”
“Aside from the fact that we want people in coverage,” Wright said, “there’s an economic imperative, as every day that passes without eligible Californians enrolled is a day we leave millions of federal dollars out of our economy. Enrolling as many Californians as possible will be vital to the sustainability of the Exchange, as those who are the least healthy will enter the program first. The only way to balance the risk pool is to recruit all.”
“We’ll need to capture people in life events that may result in uninsurance (job loss, divorce, graduation, etc)”, Wright said, “and make sure they’re able to get to the ‘door’ at the time of insurance loss. If we set up these seamless enrollment mechanisms, we’ll get a few million enrollees on day 1. Auto-enrollment mechanisms will free up our resources to focus on the difficult cases.”