We Care for California Coalition Responds to Administration's Revised Budget

Healthcare Coalition Says Budget Leaves Medi-Cal Underfunded Again

May 14, 2015, 14:57 ET from We Care for California

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The We Care for California coalition, representing the state's leading health care organizations, is disappointed that despite a surplus in the state's budget and new revenue sources, the revised budget released today includes no meaningful increase in Medi-Cal payments to health care providers in the state.

The state enacted cuts to the Medi-Cal program in 2011, which put California 47th in the nation in how much it pays doctors and other health care providers for treating Medi-Cal patients. As an example, payments to doctors under Medi-Cal are roughly $16 – less than a typical men's haircut and far lower than the actual cost of providing care.

"While cuts made to Medi-Cal may have been necessary in 2011 to get California back on track, those cuts are now impacting the millions of children and seniors who rely on Medi-Cal for essential health services," said Luther F. Cobb, M.D., California Medical Association (CMA) president. "For a pregnant woman, that's delayed prenatal care; for a child with asthma it means difficulty breathing with potentially fatal effects. It's high time that the state budget move to not only restore the 2011 cuts, but to fully fund Medi-Cal so that patients can get the care they need."

In April, the federal Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization was signed into law, providing funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for federal fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Under the law, California would receive a match from the federal government beginning in October 2015. A recent assessment from the Legislative Analyst's Office concluded this would amount to $450 million in new federal funding to California.

"Hospitals and other providers are paid by Medi-Cal at rates substantially below Medicare, placing health care providers and their patients in a precarious situation," said CHA President/CEO C. Duane Dauner.  "Priority should be given to restoring cuts made in 2011 and to bringing Medi-Cal payments up to Medicare levels."

In anticipation of the revised budget, the We Care for California coalition launched a paid advertising campaign this week urging legislators and the Administration to fully fund Medi-Cal.  The ads and additional information can be found at www.Medi-Calmatters.org.

"We Care for California is leading the effort to fully fund Medi-Cal this year because California can't afford the alternative," said Dave Regan. "We must stop offering an empty promise of an insurance card without access to health care that Medi-Cal patients need. California can do better for our children, the elderly and those with disabilities."

"California continues to be a national leader in health care reform, but our work is not done. Millions of Californians remain uninsured. The primary care provider shortage is growing and insured patients still face significant barriers to care," said California Primary Care Association President and CEO Carmela Castellano-Garcia. "If we want to deliver on the promise of health, we need to fully fund Medi-Cal and enable all patients to use their coverage to access care in a timely manner in an appropriate setting."

The We Care for California coalition represents the largest statewide organizations of physicians, dentists, hospitals, health care workers, community health clinics, health plans, first responders, caregivers and other health providers and is united around the common purpose of increasing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates.


SOURCE We Care for California