June 05, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy
Thousands of Californians poured onto the steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday in a show of overwhelming support to fully fund the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal.
Rally participants from across California arrived by the busload, holding up signs that urged better funding for the state’s single largest insurance plan and joining in chants of “Medi-Cal matters to me.”
Medi-Cal has long been underfunded, resulting in decreased access to health care for patients and dangerously low reimbursement rates for participating physicians. Currently, payments to doctors for a typical office visit under Medi-Cal are roughly $16 — far less than the cost of providing care.
“No physician, no care giver, should ever have to choose between providing care to those who need it and staying in business,” said Dustin Corcoran, CEO of the California Medical Association (CMA), standing before the large crowd. “That should not be a choice people have to make.”
The rally went on for more than three hours and featured live testimony from Medi-Cal patients, musical performances, video segments on the importance of fully funding Medi-Cal and several regional tents full of information about Medi-Cal in specific communities across the state.
Guest speakers included CMA President Luther F. Cobb, M.D.; Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina); Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda); Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and CEO of the California Primary Care Association; C. Duane Dauner, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association; and Dave Regan, president of SEIU United Healthcare Workers West.
“There is no issue in the state of California that affects more people, more families, more communities than fixing Medi-Cal,” Regan said. “And it can no longer be acceptable, when the economy is recovering, when there are budget surpluses, when there is wealth all around us, to say to 12 million human beings ‘I’m sorry, but we can’t figure it out and all the details, and you should continue to have substandard health care.’”
Since cuts were made to Medi-Cal in 2011, California has ranked among the bottom three states in the nation for Medicaid reimbursements. Health care professionals and supporters agree that fully funding the program would not only give patients more comprehensive and timelier access to health care, but would save untold sums of money by preventing various diseases and chronic conditions and overuse of local emergency rooms.
The rally was organized by the We Care for California coalition, a group of health organizations from across the state. Leading up to the rally, the group launched a statewide paid media campaign to highlight the need to fully fund Medi-Cal in the state’s budget. The deadline to sign the budget is June 15, 2015.
For more information, visit www.medi-calmatters.org.