IMPORTANT: Changes to Medi-Cal rules are coming! Medi-Cal will be available to all people who are 50 years of age or older who meet all Medi-Cal eligibility criteria, and immigration status will not matter. These changes will also let people keep more property and qualify for Medi-Cal. Go to or call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services at 1-866-613-3777.

L.A. Care CEO Joins L.A. County Medical Association’s Educational Campaign on Universal Coverage

Monday, May 9, 2022

John Baackes to Explain Why the Public Option Should Expand Nationwide

The Los Angeles County Medical Association (LACMA) has launched a campaign to inform present and future health professionals about the steps needed to achieve universal health coverage in California. The campaign involves a series of educational presentations on everything from single-payer options to freemarket solutions on universal coverage. Today, John Baackes, the CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly operated plan in the country, is the featured presenter for The Role of a Public Option Health Plan to Achieve Universal Coverage. Baackes calls L.A. Care “the only functioning public option in the country.”

L.A. Care has been serving Medi-Cal beneficiaries since 1997. In 2014, L.A. Care decided to participate in Covered California, the state’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange. This made L.A. Care the first and only public option in the marketplace. L.A. Care views participation in the state’s exchange as an extension of its original mission to provide access to quality care for L.A. County’s low-income and under-resourced communities, and to support the safety net. Participation in the exchange allows L.A. Care to continue to serve members when their financial status changes. Members are able to move from Medi-Cal to the state exchange and vice versa while keeping the same plan and doctor.

In his presentation, Baackes will give that history and explain that portability of coverage is just one benefit of a public option. Participation in the ACA by a public plan also provides the competition needed to keep rates affordable. Indeed, through the years, L.A. Care has seen the commercial plans respond to its lower rates by dropping their own rates. The competition has every plan sharpening their pencils. 

When considering expanding health coverage, Baackes believes lawmakers should look at L.A. Care as an example of a successful public option. He says the model could be expanded nationwide.

The public option virtual presentation is being held Monday, May 9, at 6:00 pm. You can register for the presentation here.

You can watch the presentation here.


About L.A. Care Health Plan

L.A. Care Health Plan serves more than 2.5 million members in Los Angeles County, making it the largest publicly operated health plan in the country. L.A. Care offers four health coverage plans including Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Covered™, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and the PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan, all dedicated to being accountable and responsive to members. As a public entity, L.A. Care’s mission is to provide access to quality health care for L.A. County's low-income communities, and to support the safety net required to achieve that purpose. L.A. Care prioritizes quality, access and inclusion, elevating health care for all of L.A. County. For more information, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.


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Penny Griego Media Relations Specialist
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