May 30, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy
The Assembly and Senate Budget Committees voted to reject the Governor’s budget proposal, which would have taken $1.3 billion in tobacco tax revenues to cover general fund responsibilities in the Medi-Cal program. Instead of using that money to improve access to care for the 13.7 million Californians served by Medi-Cal—as intended by the voters of California—the governor had proposed using tobacco tax funds to backfill a cut to the state’s general fund contribution to the program.
With the budget committee actions, it is clear your voices were heard. However, we’re not out of the woods yet. The Assembly and Senate have introduced very different tobacco tax spending proposals that will need to be reconciled in the Legislative Budget Conference Committee.
The California Medical Association (CMA) is asking physicians to contact their legislators and urge them to support the Assembly proposal, which allocates the majority of funding to physician and dental services.
Last year, CMA co-sponsored the Prop 56 tobacco tax increase with the intent of saving lives put at risk by tobacco products and improving the access and quality of medical services for all Californians – especially our most vulnerable communities who rely on Medi-Cal for health care. The language of Prop 56 was clear – the people voted overwhelmingly in support of improving payments to providers to ensure that patients can see a doctor when and where they need one.
California cannot afford to continue starving this program by diverting tobacco tax revenues to cover the state’s general fund obligations. The stakes are high – urge the Legislature to adopt a budget that reinstates tobacco tax revenues for Medi-Cal patient access to care.