California Advocates Leading the Way On Health Care Rights for All

California is a leader among states in the field of health care and largely successful in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both through its Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, and its health insurance Exchange, Covered California. Since 2017, California has led the resistance against federal efforts to undermine the ACA and Medicaid and has implemented state-level policies that strengthen the landmark health care law.

The National Health Law Program’s health advocates in California litigate cases involving Medi-Cal and Covered California eligibility and services, managed health care delivery system issues, and health reform implementation. Our advocates also litigate constitutional and due process rights, disability and civil rights, and reproductive health care rights. We engage in administrative advocacy with state and local agencies that administer and oversee public health care programs. We are part of the statewide Health Consumer Alliance (HCA), a collaborative that provides individual health consumer assistance and policy advocacy for low-income and underserved populations. HCA also provides technical assistance and training to local legal aid programs and other health care providers and advocates.

The National Health Law Program is a leader organization in health care law and policy and litigation in California. Our California offices’ health care experts play an essential role in the state’s efforts to expand and secure access to care. In this time of federal opposition and attacks against the ACA and Medicaid, we are committed to protecting and preserving the health rights of low-income individuals and underserved populations in California.

Medi-Cal: California Medicaid

California’s Medi-Cal program provides free or low-cost health care coverage to more than 14 million low-income adults, families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, children in foster care, and former foster youth up to age 26. Medi-Cal, like other Medicaid programs, covers a wide range of health services which, taken together, are intended to provide a comprehensive package of health care services from infancy to end of life. To learn more about what services are covered and for an explanation of many of the important benefits available through Medi-Cal, please review our 2020 publication.

Private Insurance with Financial Assistance

Covered California is the state-based health insurance exchange. California consumers can purchase health insurance with financial assistance to make health insurance more affordable. More than 1.4 million Californians are enrolled in Covered California and many states look to its exchange as a model for success.

The National Health Law Program works closely with Covered California to ensure its policies are consumer-friendly and facilitate increased enrollment and retention of coverage. Each year, our California office’s experts design health plans to make sure Covered California’s health care plans remain affordable and comprehensive. We work closely on Covered California’s consumer messaging, notices, and materials to ensure individuals and families understand and know their rights and scope of coverage.

As part of the Health Consumer Alliance (HCA), we are funded to provide free legal advice and representation to Covered California enrollees. The HCA provides assistance with Covered California complaints and appeals, including representing consumers at Covered California hearings.

California: Reproductive & Sexual Health

California has among the strongest reproductive and sexual health protections in the nation. Access to abortion services, family planning, and pregnancy care is guaranteed in both private insurance and Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program). Adolescents can consent to a range of reproductive health services without parental involvement.

Despite these strong legal protections, many Californians still face structural barriers to the reproductive and sexual health care they need. Three million Californians are still uninsured, Catholic health systems dominate the landscape, and managed care plans interfere with timely access to services.

The National Health Law Program works with state advocates, agencies, and policymakers to ensure that all of California’s laws are implemented and enforced so that Californians are able to access timely and high quality reproductive and sexual health care that meets their needs. We develop innovative strategies to advance reproductive health care that can be implemented in California and replicated across the country.

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