January 10, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Health Care Reform Advocacy
Sacramento - Following Governor Brown’s budget unveiling this morning, California Medical Association (CMA) President Paul R. Phinney, M.D. released the following statement:
“It is clear to us in the health care community that California is moving in a better direction than we have in recent years past. In light of that, we have serious concerns that Governor Brown and his administration have not properly addressed implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We simply cannot continue to cut resources while adding more patients into the mix.
“Governor Brown’s budget assumes roughly $1 billion per year in savings as a direct result of provider reimbursement reductions that were made in the 2011-12 budget. These cuts are currently enjoined because they would severely impact access to care for the poorest and most vulnerable patients in California. Early in 2012, Federal District Court Judge Christina Snyder said that the state’s ‘fiscal crisis does not outweigh the serious irreparable injury plaintiffs would suffer absent the issuance of an injunction.’ The state however, has continued to pursue these cuts and has indicated that, if the injunctions are lifted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, they will retroactively collect payment. Actions like this will assuredly force physicians out the Medi-Cal program, which is expected to get more than 2 million new patients in 2014 under the ACA Medicaid expansion.
“CMA has expressed concern about the Coordinated Care Initiative, also known as the Duals Pilot Project, which will mandatorily transition hundreds of thousands of patients eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal into a Medi-Cal Managed Care Program. Governor Brown’s budget today indicates that the state will be transitioning these patients over an extended time period and our hope is that stakeholder involvement and recommendations will be taken into consideration throughout this move. Moving half of the state’s dual eligible population in one fell swoop certainly does not constitute a pilot program, and we must be vigilant in making certain that these patients are still able to maintain relationships with their physicians.
“Governor Brown’s budget called for a permanent reauthorization of the Medi-Cal Managed Care Organization (MCO) tax, which would draw over $213 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year alone. CMA has joined a coalition of health care advocacy groups, asking that the funds be used to pay for child health care. These funds were originally intended to pay for the Healthy Families Program, which the legislature eliminated last summer, therefore we support the notion of the money still being used for child health care programs.
“Unfortunately, the Governor’s budget did not include funding for a new UC Riverside Medical School, which is something CMA intends to look into further and will coordinate with the Administration on. California is facing a physician shortage, and we must find a long term solution to bring more physicians into the pipeline.
“CMA looks forward to working with Governor Brown, his administration and the health care community on these issues in coming weeks and months. We understand that Governor Brown is committed to ensuring a successful implementation of the ACA in California, and working together we can make certain that patients get the access they need, expect and deserve.”