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Bill that would increase Medi-Cal rates wins unanimous committee vote



April 16, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Payor Issues and Reimbursement Public Payors 

A California Assembly bill that would raise California’s Medicaid (Medi-Cal) reimbursement rates for providers took its first step through the state legislature on April 14, receiving unanimous approval from the Assembly Health Committee.


Under AB 366, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), dramatic improvements would be made in the Medi-Cal system by restoring cuts made to Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, then raising them to Medicare levels. California is currently 47th in the country’s Medicaid reimbursement rates.


Luther F. Cobb, M.D., president of the California Medical Association, testified in support of the bill, saying the “abysmally low rates” currently in place can make it extremely difficult for physicians to keep their practice running. Those low rates also make it hard for Medi-Cal patients to find true access to care.


In one example, Dr. Cobb described a situation in which a Los Angeles woman died from cancer after several unsuccessful attempts to get the care she needed.


“Despite the assurances that you hear from the Department of Health Care Services, we all know these tragedies happen far too often across our state,” Dr. Cobb said. “This has to be addressed, and it has to be addressed now.”


The bill also received strong support from many of the committee members.


“We all represent pretty diverse districts,” Committee Vice-Chair Brian Maienschein (R-Rancho Bernardo) said, “but I think the one thing we have in common is the importance of this issue — I mean all of us I think are united on that. This is critical to California’s future.”


The bill passed 16-0, with three members abstaining. It now moves on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Senator Ed Hernandez has authored an identical bill, SB 243, which will be heard in the Senate Health Committee on April 22.

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