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Five months after proposing a riveting plan to lower health insurance costs for Californians in the middle class, Gov. Gavin Newsom has now found himself in a predicament. He now faces the task of the selling the idea that California must place heavy fines on those who do not have medical coverage.
This week, Newsom launched his pitch by highlighting how having a high health insurance cost is hurting small-business owners. He warned lawmakers that the failure of approving the fees to fund expanded subsidies is not the right way to go.
“Without the mandate, everybody’s premiums go up,” Newsom said during a discussion with healthcare leaders and small-business owners at a Covered California enrollment office in Sacramento.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Governor will spend the next few days traveling to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego to promote his health care plan. His plan involves lowering prescription drug prices, lowering medication prices, and allowing illegal young immigrants to be fully covered by Medi-Cal.
Newsom's top priority is to fix the health insurance market that has been "vandalized" by the Trump administration.
Back in January, Newsom's proposal focused on California reinstating a mandate that all citizens enroll in health insurance after the federal government eliminated the requirement. The fees would be created by the individual mandate and would serve the purpose of propping up the Affordable Care Act. The state's new penalties go toward expanding subsidies that would lower the cost of buying insurance.
If approved, the the individual mandate and subsidies would start at the beginning of next year.
Nearly 600,000 Californians paid $446 million in penalties to the federal government for not having health insurance in 2016, the most recent year for which data was available.
“That pursuit continues here in the state, but in the absence of the ideal, there is the pragmatic and there is the reality of today and how we provide relief today, and that is what we are pursuing in the interim,” Newsom said.