Governor Wins Federal Backing for Jump in Medi-Cal Funds
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on Wednesday pledged to support Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) request for $3.45 billion of the $3.7 billion in additional Medi-Cal funding to help finance his health care reform proposal, the Sacramento Bee reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Leavitt said the state could receive the remaining $250 million by submitting an application for a demonstration project (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 3/15).
Under Schwarzenegger's plan, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families would be expanded to help provide coverage to low- and moderate-income state residents. Individuals who declined to carry insurance could face a reduction in state income tax refunds or have wages withheld.
The $12 billion plan also would require contributions from employers, individuals, insurers and medical providers (California Healthline, 1/12).
Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Kim Belshé said the state likely will propose using $250 million to provide coverage to low-income single adults because the majority of the 6.5 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries are children, families and adults with disabilities (Sacramento Bee, 3/15).
California would have to increase its Medi-Cal reimbursements to medical providers before it could receive an increase in federal matching funds, something the governor has proposed doing in part by using new fees on health care providers, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Schwarzenegger, in reaction to Leavitt's pledge, said, "We could not do our reform in California if we didn't have the federal government helping us."
Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Fresno) said he supports increasing Medi-Cal funding, adding, "But if the state is committed to this problem, it has to do its part."
Dustin Corcoran, vice president of government relations for the California Medical Association, said, "There's no guarantee that matching funds would be available." He added, "We would like to see something like that so we know that the rules of the game won't change" (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/15).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Wednesday reported on the approval.
The segment includes comments from Schwarzenegger (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 3/14).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.