California health care providers unite to launch public awareness campaign, Oppose Medi-Cal Rate Cuts

April 24, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Payor Issues and Reimbursement Public Payors 

We Care for California" includes physicians, dentists, hospitals, first responders, health workers, caregivers, major health plans, labor and management

SACRAMENTO – Today, an unprecedented, broad-based coalition of California’s health care providers announced that they have come together to invest in a joint statewide campaign called “We Care for California” to support successful implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in California and to oppose further rate cuts to California’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal.

The coalition includes the largest statewide organizations representing physicians, dentists, hospitals and health care workers, as well as health plans, first responders, caregivers and other health providers. They announced their strong support for Senate Bill 640 (Lara) and Assembly Bill 900 (Alejo), reversing implementation of cuts to California's Medi-Cal provider rates, which are already the lowest in the nation.

In the coming weeks, these groups will launch a coordinated, grass-roots public awareness campaign, including a full statewide field and media effort, to increase policymaker and public awareness of the threat these cuts pose to health care access, especially in rural and underserved communities – and, as a result, to the highly-anticipated expansion of health care under ACA.

“Every provider in California’s vast health care delivery system unequivocally agrees with the simple notion that more Californians must have access to quality health care – when and where they need it – but that quality care is going to be less available and affordable in California if we continue to cut our system to the bone,” said Paul R. Phinney, M.D., President of the California Medical Association.

“We’ve come together today because we are all bound by our common passion for helping Californians lead healthier lives,” said Michelle Ross, a Patient Registration Clerk at Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, representing SEIU-UHW United Healthcare Workers West. “Together, we are determined to successfully implement the ACA and ensure it is working for all Californians, but that can only happen if we are adequately funding our system.”

“What good does it do our communities if they have health care coverage, but cannot get in to see a doctor? If we want healthy communities we need to provide access to quality and preventative care,” stated Senator Lara. “SB 640 is critical for California’s success in leading the nation as we embark upon full implementation of federal health care reform, especially for those that are most vulnerable.”

“I am proud to author AB 900, which restores devastating provider rate cuts that were enacted in 2011 for all Medi-Cal providers. Some of the providers that would be extremely affected by these cuts will be hospital-skilled nursing facilities,” said Assemblymember Alejo (D-Salinas). “In my district, retroactive implementation of the Medi-Cal rate cuts for the nursing facilities associated with Hazel Hawkins and Mee Memorial Hospital will be catastrophic for patients and their families, health care workers, and the communities they serve. We can’t let that happen. This issue is critical to all of California and cannot simply be ignored”

“Assembly Bill 900 and Senate Bill 640 are critical to all of California, because they reverse devastating Medi-Cal cuts that were enacted in 2011, but which have yet to be implemented,” said Coalinga Regional Medical Center CEO/Administrator Sharon A. Spurgeon, representing the California Hospital Association. “For hospital-based skilled nursing facilities, should these cuts be made, and made retroactively, what is today a crisis due to the lack of these services would become catastrophic for patients and their families, health care workers, hospitals and the communities they serve.”

The American Medical Response group, part of the plaintiff group engaged in a lawsuit to stop the cuts joined the group today and said that “SB 640 and AB 900 will ensure that private 9-1-1 ambulance providers, which service 70 percent of California, will continue to be able to provide life saving emergency medical services to the patients that need it most.”

"Low-income families across California rely on Medi-Cal to cover their most basic health care needs,” said Susan Fleischman, M.D., Vice President, Medicaid, CHIP, and Charitable Care, Kaiser Permanente. “Further cuts to the program will underfund our local safety net providers and put greater strain on our state's emergency rooms. Delivering the right care at the right time is the only way to truly cut health care costs. Kaiser Permanente supports SB 640 as the best way to ensure provider access and keep our communities healthy."

Members of the We Care for California Coalition include the California Medical Association, California Hospital Association, California Primary Care Association, Dignity Health, SEIU-UHW, California Association of Physicians Groups, the California Dental Association, Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente, Health Net and Molina Healthcare.


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