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About Us

Health Access works to secure quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

HEALTH ACCESS CALIFORNIA is the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, advocating for the goal of quality, affordable health care for all Californians. HEALTH ACCESS FOUNDATION undertakes community organizing and education, applied research, and policy analysis, and advocates for reform to benefit health care consumers, both insured and uninsured.

Working together, these two organizations are the leading coalition voice for health care consumers in California. We represent consumers in the legislature, at administrative and regulatory agencies, in the media, and at public forums. In Sacramento, the health industry - from insurers to drug companies, from doctors to hospitals - is well represented. Health Access ensures that consumers have a voice.

Health Access has a long history of fighting - and often winning - policy battles against HMOs that deny care, prescription drug companies that price gouge, providers that overcharge the uninsured, as well as employers that don't provide health care for their workers.

Health Access has played a significant role in leading the movement for health care reform in California. We have simultaneously promoted universal health care proposals and advocated for specific strategic reforms that promise to provide immediate health care services to California's most vulnerable populations. We have spearheaded initiatives at the state level, and led the California activity of national campaigns.

Health Access has a unique ability to undertake and bridge work at both the grassroots and senior policy levels to advocate for substantive reforms. Health Access works with a broad coalition of member organizations representing communities of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, children, seniors, people of faith, labor, and working families.

Beyond any specific policy goal, Health Access is a coalition organization that works to involve our member organizations in the health policy debate. Many of our member organizations work on multiple issues beyond health care, and have many responsibilities including providing direct services to Californians. Our mission is to help these organizations utilize whatever time and effort they spend on health advocacy in the most effective way possible. To this end, Health Access provides timely information, develops policy solutions to advocate, and organizes events and whole campaigns that groups can plug into with ease.

With offices in Sacramento, Oakland, and Los Angeles, Health Access serves a statewide constituency.

Our Core Mission Includes:

  • Preserving access to care - Health Access has been a leader in the budget battles of the last decade, working to protect our health care infrastructure of public health coverage programs like Medicaid (Medi-Cal), SCHIP (Healthy Families), and Medicare, and our safety-net institutions of public hospitals and community clinics. Health Access works to improve and strengthen these programs and services, to save them from cuts, to support the revenues and funding they need to survive and thrive, and to win the budget reforms needed to allow for continued investment.
  • Providing consumer protections - Health Access serves broadly as the voice of health care consumers. We work to develop and advocate for various proposals so consumers have confidence in their care and coverage, and in their ability to get the care they need when they need it. This includes stopping insurers or providers from denying care, or overcharging for it. Focusing on cost, quality, and access, this core work includes an aggressive combination of administrative advocacy overseeing various state agencies, legislative advocacy, and public education.
  • Expanding coverage and winning comprehensive health reform - Health Access has, since its inception, been focused on expanding health coverage, largely through group plans, such as public program expansions, employer-based benefits, or a universal, single-payer proposal. Health Access has worked to win comprehensive health reform, and is committed to implementing and improving upon the new federal health law, and the vision of quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

Accomplishments

Over the years, our work has established an impressive track record of working to preserve access to care, protect consumers, and reform our health care system. Among our victories, Health Access California has:

  • Led California efforts to win comprehensive health reform, ensuring all Democratic members of Congress voted for the new federal health law; and working with the California State Legislature to pass the first-in-the-nation bills to implement and improve the law;
  • Ensured access to coverage for children, including those with pre-existing conditions;
  • Worked to expand coverage to tens of thousands of Californians through county-based initiatives such as Healthy San Francisco - efforts that will be expanded under the new federal law and, at our urging, under the new Medicaid waiver;
  • Helped prevent health care budget cuts proposed by various Governors that would have denied more than one million people health care coverage, and caused millions more to suffer increased costs;
  • Worked to expand and streamline Medi-Cal and Healthy Families for children and parents;
  • Passed over two dozen managed care consumer protections, creating the Department of Managed Health Care, and allowing patients to get an independent review of any HMO denial of care or coverage; 
  • Secured additional reforms that include protections regarding timely access and language access to care;
  • Prevented hospitals from overcharging the uninsured by passing a first-in-the-nation (with New York) law so the uninsured are not price-gouged by hospitals, having to pay 3-4 times what insurers pay for the same treatment; and placing limits on what ER doctors charge the uninsured as well;
  • Won passage of a prescription drug discount program, one that would use the negotiating power of the government to negotiate the best possible price for those without adequate drug coverage;
  • Advanced the vision and movement for universal health care by leading and supporting several campaigns and coalitions to win comprehensive health reform and coverage expansions - each effort bringing the statewide and national conversation closer to the goal. This includes our work for single-payer proposals, universal children's coverage, expansions of employer-based coverage, Healthy San Francisco, and the federal health law.

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