June 24, 2015
Governor Jerry Brown has called for a special session of the Legislature to address “Health Care Financing” after he struck a deal with Democratic lawmakers last week. California legislators passed a $115.4 billion budget, part of a deal with Governor Brown to hold back on spending despite the state’s improving financial picture.
Left out of the budget agreement were higher rates for Medi-Cal providers. In a typical year, the conclusion of budget negotiations would mean the end of the California Medical Association’s (CMA) hopes of improving access for the over 12 million Californians who rely on the Medi-Cal program, at least for the next 12 months.
The special session of the Legislature, however, provides a new opportunity for CMA and other stakeholders to push through a permanent and significant funding increase dedicated to providers of health care services, and to ensure the health care infrastructure exists to care for the Medi-Cal population. The Governor’s special session announcement was made on the same day that the State Auditor released a report finding Medi-Cal managed care provider networks are severely lacking integrity and resulting in barriers to accessing care.
The State Auditor found that not only were managed care plans providing the state with inaccurate data on availability and participation of in-network physicians, but the state was not verifying whether the data from the plans was accurate, and thus could not reliably determine whether the Medi-Cal networks meet California’s stringent network adequacy standards. A summary of the audit’s findings can be found here. More information from CMA on this issue can be found here.
The budget includes:
- $40 million to expand Medi-Cal to cover all low-income undocumented children, effective May 1, 2016 ($132 million when fully implemented).
- $265 million to fund 7,000 additional preschool slots and 6,800 child care slots, plus a rate increase for all child care providers.
- $97 million over the January budget for the California State University to expand enrollment and focus on increased success.
- $226 million on a one-time basis to restore the 7 percent reduction in service hours for In-Home Supportive Services.
The announcement of the special session allows the Governor and legislative leaders to bypass the traditional legislative and budgetary calendar. CMA will continue to work with its legislative allies and coalitions to push this issue over the finish line.