SACRAMENTO -- A key Senate panel supported legislation Monday that would dramatically expand Medi-Cal, the state's public insurance program for the poor.
The proposal, authored by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), is part of a legislative package that aims to help California implement President Obama's healthcare overhaul.
Beginning in January 2014, the federal Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Gov. Jerry Brown has called a special session of the Legislature so that healthcare bills he signs can take effect within 90 days rather than next year.
On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee supported legislation that would expand Medi-Cal coverage to individuals earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level -- or $15,415 a year, potentially adding more than 1 million Californians to the rolls.