News Release

Date Posted

On the Bus: A Journey Ends and Begins

Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 — Sacramento

When one journey ends, another begins.

Ten days ago, Covered California embarked on a statewide bus tour to ring in the start of open enrollment and to make sure our message of affordable, accessible health care coverage reached every corner of the state.

We traveled more than 2,300 miles, from Redding to San Diego. On the bus we had representatives of the California Department of Health Care Services, community clinics, insurance agents and consumer advocacy groups. We all worked hard but were energized and inspired by the people we met as we crossed the state. We stopped in more than 30 cities along the way and met thousands of people. Many of them were already enrolled in Covered California, and they wanted to share their emotional stories of what having health care coverage has meant in their lives.

Diana, Fresno
Diana in Fresno told us how Covered California literally saved her life. Earlier this year she knew something was wrong with her health, but she put off going to a doctor because she didn’t have any insurance. Diana got covered in March, and a month later she underwent surgery to remove an aggressive form of uterine cancer. Today Diana is healthy, she is cancer-free and she is sharing her story with thousands of people.

We watched the powerful moment when some people got covered for the first time in their lives. Rubicela and Ranulfo of Boyle Heights never had health insurance before. On the day open enrollment started, they sat down with a Certified Enrollment Counselor named Jessica at an AltaMed event in Los Angeles and quickly enrolled in their first health insurance plan.

Rubicela and Ranulfo get health insurance
 for the first time
We stood with elected leaders, insurance agents, enrollment counselors and community partners. They each represented California’s rich diversity, and they all made the commitment that no Californian will be left behind in this new era of health care. And, for me, the trip was indeed personal. In Pasadena, I was joined by my mother, who last year made the point of reaching out to be sure that the food service staff in her retirement community had information about how to get access to affordable coverage.

Whether we were joined by family members, friends or colleagues, across the state we met the true heroes who are making the Affordable Care Act work in every neighborhood and community.

We had hundreds of people taking selfies with our bus, getting aboard to take a look at our mobile headquarters, and taking “I’m In” or “Tengo un Plan” buttons and resource guides to share with their friends.

Los Angeles
The bus tour was long and exhausting, but it was also invigorating. The trip reminded us of the size, beauty and wonderful diversity of our great state. It also brought home how local and personal health care is, with people in each community we were in committed to leaving no one behind. The bus tour may be over now, but in many ways our journey is just beginning.

We estimate there are roughly 3.2 million Californians who still do not have health insurance and can benefit from financial support through Covered California or Medi-Cal. The real job of making sure we leave no one behind is now being taken up in communities, churches, schools and workplaces across California.

City of Refuge, Gardena
We need the churches, like Christ our Redeemer in Irvine and City of Refuge in Gardena, which graciously allowed me to speak to their congregations last Sunday. We need public libraries, like Moreno Valley Public Library, which we visited in Riverside County. We need medical groups like Clinica Sierra Vista in Bakersfield, Ampla Health Yuba City Medical, Community Medical Center in Stockton, Petaluma Health Center and Desert Healthcare Foundation, which hosted us on our tour.

We need community partners like Crenshaw Health, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, 2-1-1 San Diego, local NAACP chapters, Sacramento Covered, California LGBT Health and Human Services Network, and the Fresno and Riverside Black Chambers of Commerce, which all stood with us on the tour. We need the Certified Insurance Agents, Certified Enrollment Counselors and county eligibility workers who have pledged to enroll and educate Californians.

Evelena, Redding
We all want Californians to have the security and peace of mind they deserve. We want them, like Diana, all to be able to see a doctor when they need one. Like the yoga instructor who led a class I took with a few bus-mates in Los Angeles — yes, I tried to get some exercise every day and even had a little barefoot time on the beach in Santa Barbara — who noted that he’d gotten insurance through Covered California and appreciated the peace of mind of having coverage he could afford. Like the Spanish-speaking gentleman who approached our bus and asked how he could get covered. And like Evelena in Redding, who came to our press event because although she worked as a manager in a fast-food restaurant, she’d been without insurance for five years.

She was thrilled to know that come January that is going to change. We want them all to be able to say “I’m In.”

As part of our open-enrollment campaign this year, we’re asking everyone to take action in the coming months and reach out to their friends and neighbors to let them know affordable coverage is now within reach. Call a family member; speak to a friend or coworker; ask your pastor to make remarks before this Sunday’s service. If you’re already insured — whether through Covered California or through any source of coverage — and willing to share a selfie of yourself on Facebook or Instagram, you can create and share an “i’M iN” badge in English or Spanish.

You can also take a look at our “Tell a Friend” page on for other ways you can help share with others why you want to be part of history by getting the word out. Making sure we leave no one behind starts now, and it starts with you. Together we can make California a healthier and more just place for all of its residents.

Thank you to everyone involved in the bus tour, but more importantly thank you to the thousands across California in every community who are part of making history and helping millions of Californians say “I’m In.”
Santa Barbara