As a founding member of the Center, I've had the privilege of both witnessing and helping the Center develop over the past two decades into the premier source of data on the health and health insurance status of California's diverse population. The Center has made a huge impact on efforts to improve the health of all Californians, particularly those who are underserved.
More than any other organization in the state, we have made it possible for health issues and challenges to be looked at, understood and addressed based on sound, credible data. Our California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) is the nation's largest state health survey and a unique source of data on many ethnic, racial and sexual minority groups that are underrepresented in other surveys. We have also developed innovative prediction tools that help policymakers prepare for the future. I'm excited about new tools we've developing, such as the AskCHIS Neighborhood Edition (NE)©, which gives users of our website the unparalleled ability to look at health data at the neighborhood level.
Our CalSIM microsimulation model, developed in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Labor Center, helped both the California Department of Health Care Services as well as Covered California understand how many people were likely to seek coverage as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was being implemented in 2014. Our estimates were on target, and ultimately, almost five million Californians enrolled in health plans through the exchange or through the Medi-Cal expansion, substantially reducing the ranks of uninsured Californians.
Beyond our data, our research and analysis informed and educated state legislators and policymakers from the smallest counties in the north to sprawling San Diego County in the south on topics ranging from the link between soda and obesity to the effect of food insecurity on vulnerable groups to the inadequacy of federal measures of poverty for senior citizens.
And we have partnered with foundations such as The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation and others to train thousands of people in community and advocacy groups to empower themselves by understanding and using health data in their work.
The ACA was a great step forward, but is now threatened with repeal and replacement, so our work is not done. The five million Californians who have benefitted directly from the ACA stand to lose their coverage entirely, or have it reduced significantly by a "replacement" plan that almost certainly will provide less coverage and expose more Californians to higher out-of-pocket costs than they experience under the ACA. And those with pre-existing conditions are going to be vulnerable again to predatory pricing by insurers who will be allowed once again to base premiums on health status.
Be assured, the Center will do everything in its power to preserve quality and affordable health insurance for all Californians. Facts still matter, and the Center will be on the forefront of producing data and information on health policy issues affecting California and the nation.
The Center will continue to be an essential resource for policymakers and the public in the upcoming years on these and many other issues. Because the Center raises all of its own money, our ability to respond to unfunded requests for data or information is often constrained. However, our E. Richard Brown Health Policy Impact Fund will heighten our ability to respond to urgent requests from lawmakers and others for data and analysis. Please consider donating to this fund today.
And we intend to continue our mission to democratize data by putting it into the hands of all Californians through accessible tools, publications and trainings.
Gerald Kominski, PhD
Read more about Dr. Kominski
UCLA Center for Health Policy Research