Laurel Lucia is a Policy Analyst at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, specializing in health care policy. She is currently analyzing the impact that national health reform will have on California families. Previously, Laurel worked on issues affecting health care workers as a Researcher/Policy Analyst for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where she was an officer in the union representing SEIU field staff, the Union of Union Representatives. Laurel received a Masters in Public Policy from UC Berkeley in 2005. During her time as a student, she was a Labor Summer intern and worked as a Graduate Student Researcher at the Labor Center. Read Laurel's recent publications.
Today, the California Legislature began a Special Session called by Governor Brown to implement aspects of the federal health reform law, including changes to Medi-Cal.
Under the Affordable Care Act, in 2014 California can expand Medi-Cal to low-income adults under age 65, including those without children living at home, a group not currently eligible unless they meet certain disability criteria. An estimated 1.4 million California adults will be eligible for this expansion, of which between 750,000 and 910,000 are expected to enroll by 2019, according to a recent report I co-authored with colleagues from the UC Berkeley Labor Center and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
The federal government will pay all medical costs for these newly-eligible enrollees from 2014 to 2016 and no less than 90 percent in future years, bringing billions in new federal dollars to the California economy.
More than 850,000 California children and their families are enrolled in early care and education programs in child care centers, preschools or family child care homes. The early care and education industry is not only important to children and their parents, it also strengthens the California economy as a whole. In a new report I co-authored with Jenifer MacGillvary, we discuss the range of economic benefits that the industry brings to California.
Every dollar spent on early care and education yields $2 in economic output for the California economy. Spending on child care services increases demand at child care suppliers and at the grocery stores, health care centers and other local businesses where child care workers spend their income. The industry also supports 200,000 jobs in California, including direct jobs caring for and educating children as well as jobs at those outlets where child care businesses and workers shop and purchase services.
In 2009, unemployment insurance helped 1.5 million Californians and their families continue to pay their rent or mortgage, keep food on the table and pay for other necessities like utilities and medications. Furthermore, unemployment insurance kept nearly 500,000 Californians out of poverty in 2009.
Not only does unemployment insurance help the families that receive benefits, but the program also boosts the entire economy, as reported in a recent policy brief I co-authored with economist Sylvia Allegretto. When unemployed workers and their families spend their unemployment insurance checks at the grocery store or local health clinic, many of those dollars continue to circulate through the local economy and help to keep grocery store clerks, health care providers and other workers employed. Our analysis found that the unemployment insurance program supported 161,000 jobs in California in 2009, mostly in the private sector. Without those jobs, California’s unemployment rate would have been almost one percentage point higher.