News Release

Date Posted

Covered California’s Executive Director: Fulfilling the dream and answering prayers

By Peter V. Lee

Every day across California, people are making dreams come true. I’m talking about the thousands of insurance agents, county workers, clinicians, members of community groups and the staff at Covered California who have teamed up to educate, teach and enroll people in coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.

I've had the chance to talk with a lot of people since open enrollment launched on October 1st, including our representatives at our call centers in Rancho Cordova and Concord, and I asked them about the thousands of calls they’re answering. The staff breathed passion for helping get people coverage and compassion for the difficulties faced by so many Californians. When one of the staff noted that a caller of his had broken down in tears of gratitude and appreciation for their no longer having to live in fear – many around the room nodded in agreement. I asked – “how many of you have also had callers break down in tears of relief?” The response was almost half of the room.

These men and women aren't just answering calls, in many ways they’re answering prayers.
More than 5 million Californians are uninsured. We all know someone in that terrifying position. A brother, nephew, grandchild, or neighbor who is just one illness away from financial ruin, and it happens more often than you think.

The Kaiser Family Foundation did a survey recently and that painted a stark picture of how not having insurance impacts Californians. In the past year:

  • Nearly one million Californians used up all – or most – of their life savings because of uninsured medical bills;
  • Nearly one million Californians spent less money on food for themselves and their families;
  • Hundreds of thousands of Californians missed or skipped paying for their electricity or gas; or even worse, a rent or mortgage payment;
  • And ultimately, more than 100,000 declared bankruptcy – all because they were uninsured and needed medical help.

Last Sunday I had the privilege to speak at the Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. As I stood there I was reminded of a famous quote Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, who said fifty years ago, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhuman.”

Fifty years ago we put in place Medicare because we as a nation would not stand by while our parents and grandparents went without care or were literally driven to poverty. We can end the inequality and inhumanity that hits millions of Americans if we work together. Together we can make access to quality health care happen. Together we can make health care available to everyone, because for the first time in American health care history, it is a right and not a privilege.

We know we cannot do this alone. It’s only going to work if we have the passion, strength and active engagement of everyone. So I’m asking you to reach out and tell your son or brother, tell a friend or co-worker about Covered California, tell them about, tell them to call us at 1-800-300-1506.

Thanks for joining us in delivering on the prayers of millions of Californians.