Children’s Hospitals’ Representatives Lobbying for Bond Measure Endorsements, Support Against Medi-Cal Reforms
One dozen representatives from the state's not-for-profit children's hospitals last week in Washington, D.C., lobbied for "high-profile national endorsements" for a bond measure that would fund renovations at the state's 13 facilities, the Modesto Bee reports (Doyle, Modesto Bee, 6/18). The $750 million bond measure, which will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot, would pay for construction, expansion and equipment for the hospitals (California Healthline, 6/4). "[H]ard-core campaigning" has not begun for the ballot measure -- the first ever in the state to target children's hospitals -- but it has "no known organized opposition," the Bee reports. Recent polls show that about two-thirds of California voters support the measure, according to California Children's Hospital Association Vice President Charity Bracy. About 20% of voters said they are undecided, according to the poll.
Taxpayer groups have not commented on the ballot measure, which would cost $1.5 billion in principal and interest payments over 30 years. Federal lawmakers from the state who support the measure include Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D), George Radanovich (R) and Adam Schiff (D). Diana Dooley, vice president and general counsel of Children's Hospital Central California, said, "The effort is to illustrate this isn't a partisan issue." Christopher Dawes, president and CEO of Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, said, "We want to garner as much support as we possibly can. It's a state issue, but we wanted to get the state's congressional delegation behind us."
The children's hospitals group also sought federal lawmakers' support for hospitals' possible opposition to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) plans to reform Medi-Cal, the Bee reports. Schwarzenegger administration officials earlier this month briefed key Capitol Hill staff on the governor's plans (Modesto Bee, 6/18). The Department of Health Services in January announced the launch of a year-long effort to reform Medi-Cal, which covers about 6.8 million California residents. In March, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kim Belshe said five working groups had been formed to work on Medi-Cal overhaul plans and to provide state officials with input from legislators, beneficiaries, local government officials, providers, health plans and others directly affected by the reforms (California Healthline, 4/13). The governor's plan, which is not yet complete and will require approval by the Legislature and the federal government, is expected to propose higher copayments for some services; new restrictions for program beneficiaries; new regulations addressing services for the blind and people with disabilities; and an enrollment cap (California Healthline, 5/6).
The children's hospitals are "[f]earful" that the reforms will reduce their funding, the Bee reports. Federal lawmakers could "play an important role" in the pending Medi-Cal reforms because "ultimately, California is likely to need a federal waiver" to enact modifications to the system, according to the Bee. Bracy said, "If you change the program and how hospitals are paid, we could have several hospitals close their doors. We're already not being paid sufficiently" (Modesto Bee, 6/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.