Bill to block Medi-Cal cuts clears committee with unanimous vote

April 25, 2013

Following a strong show of support from interest groups ranging from health care providers to labor, a measure to block the state’s planned Medi-Cal cuts has taken its first step toward law.

On Wednesday, SB 640, authored by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Los Angeles) passed out of the Senate Committee on Health with an 8-0 vote. The bill, if approved, would repeal the 10 percent cut to Medi-Cal a reimbursement rate that was approved by the Legislature as part of the 2011 budget process.

Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), who chairs the committee and voted in favor of the cuts back in 2011, noted that California’s budget situation has improved significantly since the reductions were first approved.

“We’re in a different place than we were two years ago,” he said.

To date, the cuts have yet to implemented, due to a pending lawsuit filed by the California Medical Association (CMA). Last year, the cuts were enjoined, but the state appealed the ruling and an appeals court recently ruled that the cuts could, indeed, move forward. Gov. Jerry Brown has since said that the state plans to assess the cuts both retroactively and moving forward.

SB 640, if approved, would prevent both scenarios from occurring.

Supporters of the bill, which include CMA, SEIU-UHW, multiple insurance providers and a host of other interests, note that cutting Medi-Cal reimbursement on the eve of the Affordable Care Act—which will add millions of new insured to the program—is poor public policy.

“California providers are ready to embrace health reform, but our state must repair its broken safety net,” Lara said.

The bill now moves to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.


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