CMA Capitol Insight: May 26, 2015

May 26, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy 

CMA Capitol Insight is a biweekly column by veteran journalist Anthony York, reporting on the inner workings of the state Legislature.

Only time will tell

As a bill to require children to receive vaccinations before entering public school moved off the Senate floor, the tactics of the California Chiropractic Association were brought into question through a number of independent journalism reports.

The California Medical Association will continue to fight hard for what we believe is good public health policy. And while we understand that there can be honest and open disagreement about the issue, it’s important to keep the dialogue about the merits of the policy.

SB 277 now moves to the Assembly, where it will begin committee hearings next month.

Gov. Jerry Brown released his revised budget, but still no additional funding for reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal providers. The governor’s budget projects that a full one-third of the state’s population will be on Medi-Cal at some point during the 2015-16 budget year – more than 12.4 million people. But many of these people will find it increasingly difficult to find a doctor to see them, since California continues to have the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation.

A growing bipartisan consensus supports the increased provider payments to ensure network adequacy, and fulfill the promises of expanded coverage made in the Affordable Care Act. With the Legislative Analyst’s Office identifying an additional $1.1 billion in discretionary revenue in the May budget, lawmakers are making the case that now is the time to ensure the health and stability of our Medi-Cal system.

In election news, former Jerry Brown aide Steve Glazer won a hard-fought victory over Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in an East Bay Senate seat. Glazer will serve out the rest of the term of former Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, who won election to Congress last fall.

The race was expensive – more than $9 million was spent in all – despite the fact that both Glazer and Bonilla are Democrats. Glazer reached out to Republicans, and had the support of business groups and GOP activists who spent millions on his election effort. Bonilla was boosted by labor unions, who had singled out Glazer for his efforts to ban transit strikes and for his work against labor-backed candidates in the 2012 election cycle.

Glazer’s election adds a new dynamic to the state Senate, where a small number of moderate members may be able to swing key policy decisions. It will also be worth watching how Glazer navigates the politics of the house, and of his future electoral fate.

Democratic Party leaders blasted Glazer, even after his victory, leaving open the possibility that they would challenge Glazer’s reelection in 2016. The special election turnout was smaller and more conservative than what is expected next fall, which is a presidential year. With so much riding on the 2016 ballot – from initiatives to legislative races to the fight to regain 2/3 majorities in both houses, will labor reinvest in efforts to unseat an incumbent Democrat?

Time will tell, and we’ll be watching…


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