California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospital Group, Union Launch Medi-Cal Reimbursement Ad Campaign

As part of an agreement reached last year, the California Hospital Association and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West have launched an advertisement campaign seeking to increase Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

Background

For years, medical interest groups have been pushing the state to restore a 10% Medi-Cal reimbursement cut imposed in 2011. The cost to the state for doing so has been estimated to be about $269 million.

The groups so far have failed to persuade Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to restore the cuts (White, Sacramento Bee, 5/29).

Brown's revised fiscal year 2015-2016 budget plan proposes $91.8 billion in Medi-Cal spending but does not include funding to increase provider reimbursements (California Healthline, 5/15).

Last year, CHA and SEIU-UHW -- which traditionally have been adversaries -- announced an agreement in which SEIU-UHW would end a push for two ballot initiatives targeting hospital pricing and executive pay. Under the deal, the groups also agreed to jointly fund a $100 million campaign aimed at increasing Medi-Cal payments and reforming the program (California Healthline, 6/10).

Details of Campaign

So far, SEIU-UHW and CHA have committed $10 million to the campaign ahead of the release of the state's finalized budget plan.

SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan said, "This is a multi-year effort," noting that the low Medi-Cal reimbursement rate is "the single biggest fundamental strategic problem facing the future of the health care system in California."

Several other groups have joined the new campaign, called "We Care for California," including:

  • The California Medical Association;
  • The California Primary Care Association; and
  • Various insurers.

In addition, many democratic and republican state lawmakers also are pushing to increase Medi-Cal reimbursements, according to the Bee.

Assembly member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) -- chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, which has suggested increasing Medi-Cal payments over two years -- said, "We think we have a good shot of doing it this year because of the resources that have come in and because of the issues of health, the things we're seeing in terms of services being lost" (Sacramento Bee, 5/29).

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