Voter Signatures Submitted for Ballot Measure to Protect Health Care Funding for Children, Seniors and Low Income Californians

Initiative Ensures Government Accountability, Provides Billions in Federal Matching Funds

Apr 23, 2014, 13:32 ET from California Hospital Association

SAN DIEGO, April 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A broad coalition of health care providers and community groups announced today that they have collected and are submitting more than one million voter signatures statewide in order to qualify the Medi-Cal Funding and Accountability Act of 2014 for the November ballot.  The measure builds upon SB 239, an important bipartisan agreement passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013, with no opposition votes cast, to provide a stable source of health care funding to serve California's most vulnerable citizens: children, seniors and low income residents.

The California Hospital Association along with Rady Children's Hospital – San Diego hosted an event to highlight the submission of signatures in the San Diego region and included the participation of The Children's Initiative and the California Children's Hospital Association.

"California voters will get the chance this fall to strengthen this critically important law and improve access to quality affordable medical care for those who need it most," said C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO of the California Hospital Association. "The Medi-Cal Funding and Accountability Act will ensure California receives ongoing access to approximately $3 billion annually in available federal matching funds.  This is California's fair share; money that would otherwise be left on the table in Washington, D.C."

Hospitals have agreed to leverage their existing resources and work cooperatively with the State to unlock approximately $3 billion a year in available federal matching funds; maximizing California's share.  While it is called a "fee program," patients are not assessed any fees, nor are there new or increased taxes.  The funds must be spent to provide health care services to children and resources for Medi-Cal to serve elderly and low-income Californians. Without these resources, the money would have to come from privately insured patients. The non-partisan Legislative Analyst has concluded that the Act would save state taxpayers $500 million for children's health coverage, beginning in 2016-17, and would grow to more than $1 billion annually by 2019-20.

"The Act protects taxpayers and patients by prohibiting funds from being diverted to purposes that are not health care-related," said Dr. Donald Kearns, Acting President and Chief Medical Officer, Rady Children's Hospital – San Diego. "The money would have to be used for its intended purpose, to help provide health care services to children, seniors and other low-income Californians, and any changes in the program or how the money is spent would have to be approved by voters first."

The Act ensures continued access to health care at hospitals throughout the San Diego region as well as the rest of the state. Its benefits extend far beyond Medi-Cal, which is why it has earned the endorsement of California's leading health care providers, advocacy groups, community based organizations and more than 200 local hospitals.

"People with private insurance shouldn't have to face higher rates to subsidize unpaid Medi-Cal bills, when federal money is available to cover the cost," said Dauner. "The Act is a common-sense answer to helping provide health care to those who need it most, at great benefit to California taxpayers."

SOURCE California Hospital Association