California’s Democrat-controlled legislature is considering a state version of Obamacare’s individual mandate to replace the one killed by President Trump’s new tax reform bill.
State Senator and Chair of the Senate Health Committee Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) told the San Francisco Chronicle that the tax reform that passed both houses of Congress this week, which would eliminate the penalty for not buying health insurance, is projected to result in 1.7 million fewer Californians having health insurance over the next decade. Hernandez claimed that, “All options are on the table if federal enforcement of the individual mandate ends.”
The State of California is expected to lose nearly $1.3 billion a year in Obamacare penalties, due to the tax reform bill eliminating fines for uninsured individuals, and employers not signing up for health care, according to an analysis by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.
Obamacare was sold to the American public as an economic stimulus. But it appears to have caused negative “economic multipliers” that resulted in the worst economic recovery since World War II.
Yet California, with a population of 39.25 million, was able to game the Obamacare rules to push up its Medicaid enrollment to 13,465,532, or about 34 percent of the state’s population, according to the Medicaid.gov website. Despite having less than 12 percent of the nation’s population, California pocketed 19.6 percent of all federal spending on Medicaid. In federal cash dollars, that worked out to a stunning $110.838 billion in 2016.
Covered California executive director Peter Lee suggested at a Dec. 7 board meeting that the Democrat-controlled California legislature should pass its own state-level individual mandate. He stated that there is a precedent for a state mandate from former Republican Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 2007 health care reform deal.
Although such an effort would require two-thirds majorities of both the California Assembly and Senate, which will be difficult due to several Democrats resigning recently over alleged sexual harassment allegations, the alternative is huge spending cuts to meet the state’s constitutional requirement for a balanced budget.
Californians who did not buy health insurance last year paid a penalty based on the greater of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, plus cost of living adjustment, or 2.5 percent of taxable household income over the tax filing threshold.