Low-Wage Workers’ Health Care Bill Passes Senate

August 24, 2009
Contact: Rodney Foo @ (408) 282-8920
Assembly Bill 115 Covers Working Poor in Santa Clara County, Stabilizes Medical Costs

Sacramento -- While the nation remains deadlocked over national health insurance reform, a bill introduced by Assemblymember Jim Beall Jr. to provide health coverage for thousands of low-wage workers in Santa Clara County and their families was passed today by the California State Senate.

Assembly Bill 115 was approved by the Senate on a 26-13 vote. The bill returns to the Assembly for a vote on concurrence.

“Health care is a right not a privilege,’’ said Beall, D-San Jose. “With this bill, we can ensure that 5,000 hard-working people in Santa Clara County won’t have to worry about whether they can afford a visit to the doctor’s office or the emergency room.

“Almost half of all bankruptcies filed are related to medical bills. AB 115 addresses that problem while attacking the mounting medical debt that has raised the cost of hospital and medical care and insurance premiums for all of us.’’

Under AB 115, the Santa Clara Family Health Plan will run the Healthy Workers Program, a program that would offer affordable heath care coverage for up to 5,000 uninsured Santa Clara County adults whose incomes are 350 percent of the federal poverty level. The coverage would extend to dependents, spouses, or domestic partners.

This program would be supported by contributions paid by participating small businesses, premiums paid by the employees, and any county, state, federal or private sector funding made available.

The Health Workers Program parallels the Healthy Kids insurance program, which covers more than 167,000 children of the working poor in Santa Clara County. As a county supervisor eight years ago, Beall spearheaded the drive that helped create the Healthy Kids program.