Gov. Brown Signs Law Banning Sales of Short-Term Health Plans, Med-Cal Work Requirements

Dr George Ma draws blood from patient Ben Loya. Nearly three-quarters of his Chinatown office's patients are covered by Medi-Cal. (Credit: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times)

Dr George Ma draws blood from patient Ben Loya. Nearly three-quarters of his Chinatown office's patients are covered by Medi-Cal. (Credit: Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times)

California will formally forbid the sale of short-term health plans and work requirements for those who receive subsidized healthcare, under laws signed on Saturday by Gov. Jerry Brown, with both proposals crafted as sharp rejoinders to efforts by the Trump administration.

Senate Bill 1108 by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) will make clear that the purpose of Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, is to provide healthcare to low-income Californians. Other benefits that could be offered by the state, such as work or housing assistance, would have to be voluntary, not a requirement in order to receive medical coverage.

As a left-leaning state that has embraced the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, California is unlikely to pursue work requirements for that program. But with the Trump administration backing efforts by a handful of states to impose such requirements, backers of the measure said it was important to enshrine in state law that California would not do the same.

Critics have said that work requirements will limit the care of those unable to work, including those with chronic physical ailments, mental illness or substance abuse problems. Four states have already taken action to move toward work mandates, though a federal judge has ruled against the effort in Kentucky.

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