Health care providers call on Governor and Legislature to keep promise to Medi-Cal patients

May 09, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy 


California Medical Association, California Dental Association and Planned Parenthood of California


Sacramento, CALIF. – As the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by the U.S. House threatens to slash Medicaid funding and defund Planned Parenthood, California’s leading health care providers are fighting to ensure Congress protects patient access to the vital services provided by Medicaid and community clinics.

An equally important battle is being waged here in California. More than one third of all Californians struggle to access dentists, physicians and clinics, as a result of the state’s underfunded Medi-Cal program.

Today, the California Dental Association (CDA), California Medical Association (CMA) and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) call on Governor Jerry Brown and the State Legislature to invest tobacco tax revenues (Proposition 56) in a manner that is consistent with the law: to expand patient access to the essential health care services provided by community clinics, dentists and physicians, and draw down the maximum matching federal dollars.

“Now, more than ever, California must act to protect and improve health care throughout our state,” said Kathy Kneer, PPAC President and CEO. “Defunding Planned Parenthood and preventing us from providing preventative and reproductive care to more than 850,000 Californians is a win for the regressive policies of the Trump Administration. By not investing tobacco tax revenues to improve health care access, California is leaving a billion dollars in federal matching funds on the table – and in the hands of the Trump Administration.”

Instead of improving access to care for the 14.3 million Californians served by Medi-Cal, the current budget proposes to use tobacco tax funds to backfill a cut to the state’s general fund contribution to the program. This plan does nothing to improve California’s health; it maintains the status quo and adds more patients to the back of the line in already overflowing waiting and emergency rooms. 

“Tobacco tax funds must be used to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable patients of our state: like the patient who needs prompt access to chemotherapy but is stuck on a six month waitlist. Or the young woman in the Central Valley who has to drive 50 miles for dependable access to family planning services,” said CMA President Ruth Haskins, M.D. “As the Trump Administration reneges on its promise of providing affordable health care for all Americans, it’s more important than ever that California fulfill its duty to the voters and apply tobacco tax revenues to help our patients.”

There are well-documented barriers to care within Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal. Sixteen California counties have no Denti-Cal providers or none able to accept new patients. More than 50 percent of Medi-Cal patients have reported difficulty getting in to see a specialist. And increasingly, community clinics are forced to close their doors due to severe underfunding. 

“Denti-Cal is chronically underfunded and many Californians have difficulty accessing care,” said CDA President Clelan Ehrler, D.D.S, M.S. “More than a third of California’s population, including 60 percent of children, are enrolled in Denti-Cal, which is why we need to use tobacco tax revenues as voters intended—allowing more providers to participate in the program to ensure enrollees can access care when they need it.”

The stakes are high – urge the Legislature to adopt a budget that reinstates tobacco tax revenues for Medi-Cal patient access to care.

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The California Medical Association (CMA) represents the state’s physicians with more than 43,000 members in all modes of practice and specialties. CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California. For more information, please visit cmadocs.org, and follow CMA on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

The California Dental Association (CDA) is the non-profit organization representing organized dentistry in California. Founded in 1870, CDA is committed to the success of our members in service to their patients and the public. CDA also contributes to the oral health of Californians through various comprehensive programs and advocacy. CDA’s membership consists of more than 27,000 dentists, making it the largest constituent of the American Dental Association. For more information, visit cda.org. 

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) is the state public policy office representing California’s seven separately incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates. Through advocacy and electoral action, PPAC promotes sound public policy in areas of reproductive and preventive health care, family planning and comprehensive sexual health education. Visit ppactionca.org or follow us on Twitter.


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