It’s not a matter of if we will need access to health care, it’s a matter of when. Health care isn’t simply a discussion of finances and insurance plans. It’s about human lives. On May 9th the Board of Supervisors received an update from Partnership Health Plan of California (PHP) regarding administration of Medi-Cal benefits in Yolo County. Elizabeth Gibboney, Chief Executive Officer of PHP updated the Board on important initiatives such as the “Pain Safely” program that resulted in a 63.8% decrease in unsafe doses of opioids in Yolo County since 2014 and their current efforts to expand substance abuse services.
We also learned about the positive health and economic impacts for the people of Yolo County as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion. In Yolo County, 52,000 residents are enrolled in Medi-Cal. That’s 24% of our population.
There are an additional 6,000 residents that are covered under the Covered California health exchange. Of our residents enrolled in Medi-Cal, 15,000 now have health coverage due to the ACA Medicaid expansion. The individuals covered by the ACA Medicaid expansion are typically working adults that do not have employer-based health care coverage. These residents are now using primary care at the same rates as other insured groups resulting in a 37% reduction in emergency room use with the Medicaid expansion population.
Prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, indigent healthcare costs were the largest contributor to the Yolo County deficit, and the coverage didn’t reach all the residents that were in need of health care. The American Health Care Act recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, and the significant reductions to Medicaid funding, would be devastating to our budget and the people of Yolo County.
In addition to the human cost, there is an economic impact associated with repeal of the ACA. The Partnership Health Plan commissioned an economic analysis that found the ACA is an important economic driver. If the ACA is repealed it will result in a loss of 8,500 jobs and $1.1 billion in lost revenues and sales across many industries in the 14 counties they serve.
We are very fortunate in this region to be served by the Partnership Health Plan of California. The Affordable Care Act has provided lifesaving and affordable health coverage to the people of Yolo County. Our county budget does not have the capacity to provide this level of funding without federal contributions. The human cost of the threats to the ACA is extreme. The absence of health care is a life or death situation. This is about people’s lives. I commit to continuing to work for the health and wellness of the people in our communities.