Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Next test for Covered California

A sign for Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange.
A sign for Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange.

California has been an enthusiastic adopter of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, but that hasn’t inoculated the state from growing pains.

While many Republican-led states resisted creating insurance marketplaces, legislators here moved swiftly to launch Covered California. More than 2.8 million Californians have gotten coverage via the exchange since it opened in 2014 and about 1.4 million are actively enrolled. In a first, lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown have moved to allow undocumented immigrants to buy subsidy-free insurance on the exchange if the federal government signs off.

But Californians will still face double-digit increases in the prices of premiums this year, though Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee has argued the state’s vigilance has kept the increase below the national average. Noting that most consumers will have at least three plans to choose from, he has urged people to shop around.

Starting today, they’ll get their chance. Open enrollment launches amid official predictions of signing up around 400,000 people. Consumers shopping for insurance can peruse their options here. But don’t look for television spots just yet: in an effort to not influence the election, Lee said officials are holding off on a public information campaign until Nov. 9, when some “really good ads” start running.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: California NAACP head Alice Huffman recounts an early encounter with former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

TODAY’S DEEP READ: See Taryn Luna’s profile of Alice Huffman.

BY THE NUMBERS: Of the Democrats trying to take out Republican legislative incumbents next month, only former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva has a federal Super PAC. The Fullerton Democrat's Assembly campaign had paid a total of $225,000 for mailers and TV ads opposing Republican president nominee Donald Trump through Sunday, Federal Election Commission filings show. The anti-Trump pieces, though, feature a definite tie-in to Quirk-Silva's rematch against Assemblywoman Young Kim, R-Fullerton: they feature Quirk-Silva and link Kim to Trump. Other Democratic campaigns also have worked to tie Republican opponents to Trump, but haven’t shown up in federal Super PAC filings.

Click here to go to The Money Trail.

NO PANE, DESMOND’S GAIN: If you’ve spent any time around the Assembly chambers, you’ll recognize Chief Sergeant-At-Arms Ronald Pane’s mustachioed face. The longtime top Capitol cop is retiring at the end of November and, while the Assembly churns through a nationwide search for a replacement, Captain Rich Desmond of the California Highway Patrol will shadow Pane and serve as acting chief. Desmond’s tenure in that role starts today, according to an email sent to members’ offices.

COMMUNITY: It has been just over two years since Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees, an effort to alleviate a warned-of shortage of college-educated workers in California. Today the Senate budget panel’s education subcommittee will offer some updates on how the 15-school pilot program has progressed and look ahead to what comes next. Experts, including community college professors and administrators, will delve into the details starting at 10 a.m. at San Diego City College.

HOME FRONT: Once again, California’s In-Home Supportive Services program is generating political tension. In the past the network of home health aides has been at the center of budget fights. Now lawmakers are hearing complaints about delayed paychecks for IHSS workers. Today the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services will examine what’s going on, calling on a set of witnesses that includes providers, labor reps and county and state officials. Starting at 9:30 a.m. at Los Angeles City Hall.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, who will celebrate his 63rd while battling to retain a once-safe seat.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert. Jim Miller of the Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.