May 10, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy
California’s Democratic Congressional delegation urged Governor Jerry Brown to restore $1.2 billion in tobacco tax funds and use them for their intended purpose: to improve access to and quality of medical services for all Californians, especially our most vulnerable communities who rely on Medi-Cal for basic care.
“With the success of the expanded Medicaid funding under the Affordable Care Act, it is critical Medi-Cal patients not only have coverage, but that they also have access to providers that accept Medi-Cal, which has been challenging to patients since the Medicaid expansion,” the delegation wrote in a letter to Gov. Brown.
Instead of improving access to care for the 14.3 million Californians served by Medi-Cal, Gov. Brown's proposed budget takes tobacco tax funds to backfill a cut to the state’s general fund contribution to the program. This plan does nothing to improve California’s health. It maintains the unsustainable status quo and adds more Medi-Cal patients to the back of the line while passing the costs to cities and counties already struggling with crowded waiting and emergency rooms.
""This threatens the success of California’s Medicaid expansion at a time when we’re fighting to sustain it against attempts by the Trump Administration to decrease Medicaid funding,"" the letter stated. “We urge you to restore the tobacco tax funding for its intended purpose. Now more than ever, we must be united in working together to ensure that all Californians have access to care they need.”
Physician Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-Palm Desert), a former emergency physician, circulated the letter among the Congressional delegation.
The stakes are high – urge the Legislature to adopt a budget that reinstates tobacco tax revenues for Medi-Cal patient access to care.