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California Legislature

Two measures to boost Obamacare in California signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown

 (Nick Agro / Associated Press)
(Nick Agro / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown signed two measures Wednesday to help Californians who buy health insurance under Covered California, the state's Obamacare marketplace. The measures ensure a longer enrollment period and continued treatment for some patients even if their insurer leaves Covered California.

The first measure, AB 156 by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), was spurred by a Trump administration policy that established a 45-day window for shoppers on Obamacare marketplaces to buy new insurance policies for the coming year.

That's half the amount of time Covered California shoppers are used to, because the state has always offered a three-month enrollment period. Healthcare advocates said Wood's bill was necessary to both conform to the federal 45-day policy and establish additional enrollment times in order to give Californians adequate time to sign up for coverage.

The second bill, SB 133 by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa), allows certain patients whose insurers have left the individual market to continue seeing their doctors for up to one year, even if those practitioners are not part of their new insurers' plan.

The guaranteed continuity of care would apply for those who have acute conditions, serious chronic conditions, terminal illness or are receiving maternal and infant care.

The measure came on the heels of news that some high-profile insurers, such as Anthem Blue Cross and Cigna, are scaling back their offerings under Covered California.

"Providing these continuity-of-care protections and keeping a 12-week open enrollment period are simple but important steps to ensure access to care," said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, an advocacy group that backed both bills. "If we keep the framework and financing of the [Affordable Care Act] intact, California has the will and the wherewithal to ensure we protect consumers from the Trump administration's troubling attacks."

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