California Medical Association responds to Governor Brown's May revise

May 03, 2014

Sacramento - Following Governor Brown’s revised budget unveiling this morning, the California Medical Association (CMA) continues to advocate that restoring cuts to California’s Medicaid program is essential for ensuring access to care.

“The California Medical Association applauds the Governor’s commitment to expanding access to care for millions of Californians,” said Richard Thorp, M.D., CMA president. “With 11.5 million beneficiaries estimated to be eligible for the Medi-Cal program, we must ensure we can meet the need of nearly 30 percent of Californians who will rely on California’s beleaguered Medicaid program.”

Today’s estimated number of enrollees is much higher than in the Governor’s initial budget released in January.

“Despite this commitment, we simply cannot continue to add millions of people to Medi-Cal and simultaneously cut the resources available to that program,” added Dr. Thorp. “CMA was deeply disappointed to see that the Governor’s budget continues to score savings from a Medi-Cal reimbursement rate cut that was passed in 2011. California should not be balancing the budget on the backs of California’s poorest and most vulnerable patients and we believe that doing so will result in terrible outcomes for the state and for patients.”

In January, CMA praised the Governor for not implementing the cuts to Medi-Cal reimbursement rates retroactively – such an action would have crippled the program and severely limited access to care. Unfortunately, his January budget left the cut in place going forward and, regrettably, the May Revise continues the implementation of these painful cuts.

“California has one of the nation’s lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates and arguably some of the highest practice costs across the country. While California should be proud for the initial success of enrolling people into Medi-Cal, that alone will not ensure that patients will have access to care,” Dr. Thorp said.

In a speech last night, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins said that “As we expand coverage through Medi-Cal and private insurance, we must ensure that we have the medical professionals to provide services, otherwise there really isn’t access to healthcare. And we need to ensure that providers are paid what it costs for the service.”

“As the rest of the nation looks to California for an example of health reform success, cutting the resources and reimbursement rates to that program will only set the state up for failure and leave millions of patients without access to quality medical care.

“CMA stands proud with our legislative partners that have dedicated themselves to this issue, including Assemblymembers Skinner and Pan who have both looked at legislative remedies to fix underlying problems with reimbursement rates. We must ensure that medical care is a reality and not just an empty promise with an insurance card,” concluded Dr. Thorp.


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