Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Covered California braces for the Trump era

Covered California faces an uncertain future.
Covered California faces an uncertain future. lsterling@sacbee.com

In backing a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress, U.S. voters have written a bad prescription for fans of Obamacare.

President-elect Donald Trump’s elevation repudiates on a national level the California agenda, and it will test the state’s ability to maintain some of its liberal policies. On immigration, for instance, Trump will have to contend with how police chiefs run their departments and how state law dictates the treatment of jailed immigrants.

Unlike Trump, who has vowed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, California readily embraced the federal healthcare overhaul’s mandate to set up insurance exchanges. Mere weeks ago we were talking about Covered California preparing for open enrollment amid rising premium prices; now frustration with those prices appears to have helped propel Trump to the White House, and Covered California’s prognosis got a lot hazier. As the Bee’s Claudia Buck reported, California could maintain its state exchange but would struggle to make it financially viable without federal subsidies.

Today health care experts will gather for a Covered California board meeting that will include panel discussions covering “national and state health care landscape and trends,” according to a somewhat understated press release. Expected speakers include Covered California chief actuary John Bertko, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley, California Department of Public Health director Karen Smith, Senate Health Committee chair Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, and a range of healthcare experts. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1601 Exposition Blvd.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: What else could happen under a Trump presidency? Reporters with McClatchy’s Washington bureau explore First 100 Days scenarios.

BY THE NUMBERS: We now know that Assembly Democrats won back their supermajority. But there are still a few races outstanding, including the 29th Senate District clash between Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, and Democrat Josh Newman, which will make or break a Senate supermajority. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, expanded his lead but hasn’t been declared winner just yet. The numbers as of Wednesday evening:

▪ Congressional District 7: Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, 51 percent. Scott Jones (R) 49 percent.

▪ Congressional District 49: Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, 51 percent. Doug Applegate (D) 49 percent.

▪ Assembly District 40: Assemblyman Marc Steinorth, R-Rancho Cucamonga, 51.5 percent; Abigail Medina (D) 48.5 percent.

▪ Assembly District 65: former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D) 51.2 percent; Assemblywoman Young Kim, R-Fullerton, 48.8 percent. Quirk-Silva has declared victory but the AP has yet to call this one.

▪ Senate District 29: Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, 51 percent; Josh Newman (D) 49 percent.

▪ Proposition 53 (revenue bonds): No 51.3 percent, Yes 48.7 percent

▪ Proposition 66 (death penalty streamline) Yes 51 percent, No 49 percent

Click here to go to The Money Trail.


WHAT HAPPENED? Former Gov. Gray Davis isn’t the only one puzzling over an election finish few saw coming. Two different talks will try to dissect the results today. Here in Sacramento, the Harry S. Truman Club is sponsoring an 11:30 a.m. chat at the Sterling Hotel with Scott Lay, Roger Salazar and Carol Dahmen-Eckery. Down in Los Angeles, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla – who has not been shy in opposing the Trump agenda – will be among the speakers at an event hosted by Cal State LA’s Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

THE MINIMUM: Is a $15-an-hour minimum wage a boon to workers or a job-killer? It’s a debate that greeted California’s decision to embrace the Fight For Fifteen and get to the $15 floor last year, with opponents warning of a spike in unemployment. As with weed legalization, we have some evidence from Washington’s decision to go first: today, a pair of academics who have studied Seattle’s ongoing move to a $15 wage will discuss their findings on the impact so far. Associate Professor Heather Hill and Professor Jacob Vigdor, both of the University of Washington, will be talking at 1130 K Street at noon.

COASTING: The California Coastal Commission was a key character in last year’s legislative drama, with a widely lambasted ouster of the body’s leader producing a wave of bills targeting how the regulator is influenced. That effort failed badly, with some literally cheering one measure’s demise, but rest assured the debate over managing California’s coast will continue. Today a conference put on by academics and environmentalists will mark the 40th anniversary of the California Coastal Act by seeing what the future holds, drawing on speakers like state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, acting Coastal Commission executive director John Ainsworth and some of his commission colleagues, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird, Ocean Protection Council head Deborah Halberstadt, and a range of folks from public and private institutions with an interest in the coast. At Berkeley’s Bancroft Hotel.

GOLDEN YEARS: Supporters heralded California’s creation of a state-managed retirement plan for the private sector as a groundbreaking shift in how Americans retire. Now we’ll see how well it works. A variety of experts will be discussing the Secure Choice system at the Sheraton Grand, with California State Controller Betty T. Yee delivering the opening keynote before giving way to panelists from organizations that include The Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Association of Retired Persons, the California Chamber of Commerce, SEIU California and the California Budget & Policy Center. Things kick off at 9 a.m.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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