The Brown administration said today that it is rapidly moving ahead on California's health care expansion following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding President Barack Obama's signature law.
"This is a very great day," state Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley said. "California has been a leader in health care reform for a very long time. We've had many starts and stops, and we are now in the full go mode here."
At stake for California was billions of dollars in federal aid for the state's expansion of coverage.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the state is expected to receive $45 billion to $55 billion from the federal government from 2014 to 2019 to expand Medi-Cal, California's version of Medicaid. An additional 1.2 million to 1.6 million Californians are expected to be newly covered under the program.
In addition, through the California Health Benefit Exchange, a public health insurance marketplace prescribed by the federal overhaul, officials estimate about 2 million Californians -- many of them currently uninsured -- will obtain insurance beginning in 2014.
"This ruling removes a distraction from the job that thousands of Californians have come together to address," said Peter Lee, the exchange's executive director.
Lee said the state is "moving full-speed ahead" to establish the exchange, including a "major media and outreach campaign" next year.
"We look forward to making the purchase of insurance through California's exchange as easy as buying a book on Amazon or shoes on Zappos," Lee said.
Gov. Jerry Brown was among state Democrats celebrating the ruling. He said in a prepared statement, "Today's dramatic Supreme Court ruling removes the last roadblock to fulfilling President Obama's historic plan to bring health care to millions of uninsured citizens."