California’s healthcare plan could be jeopardized if Affordable Care Act found unconstitutional

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SACRAMENTO (KRON) — California is one of several states defending the Affordable Care Act in federal court today.

Judges will decide if the act’s requirement for Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fee is constitutional.

On the same day California defends the Affordable Care Act in federal court, Gov. Gavin Newsom and some state lawmakers spent time at a community health center in Sacramento.

Ninety percent of the patients served there are on Medicaid or Medi-Cal — a program that could see changes if the Affordable Care Act is found unconstitutional, possibly leaving millions of people without health insurance.

“Over half the country under the age of 65 is holding their breath waiting for a decision, that’s 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, that’s how consequential today is,” Newsom said. 

The governor celebrated the contrast between the White House and California. 

The state’s new health plan is similar to the Affordable Care Act, requiring Californians to pay a tax if they don’t purchase health insurance.

The state is aiming for universal health care and is soon expanding coverage to anyone under the age of 26 regardless of immigration status.

“We are the most un-Trump health state in America when it comes to health policy and I’m proud of that,” the governor said.

Anticipating more demand, the state is sweetening the deal with loan repayment programs for doctors who promise to serve poorer patients, like Dr. Byron Ruiz, who just found out $300,000 of his debt is gone.

“I enjoy working with these patients, and it is kind of hard keeping up with these loan payments,” Ruiz said.

If the Affordable Care Act is found unconstitutional, that will present a new challenge to California’s so-called health care for all plan.

“But to the extent we get impacted with millions of people that lose Medi-Cal coverage, I’m not here to say overnight we would be able to subsidize those losses, that would be misleading, but we would be able to rebuild that framework,” Newsom said.

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