Schwarzenegger Addresses Medi-Cal Funding in Washington, D.C.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Thursday "stumped" in Washington, D.C. for more Medi-Cal funding, including a request for as much as $700 million a year to help the state pay hospitals that treat uninsured patients, the Sacramento Bee reports. The governor's January budget proposal requested the $700 million, but state officials who are negotiating with the Bush administration said they are more likely to receive roughly $400 million.
Schwarzenegger on Thursday discussed with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt plans for the funding, which if granted would be distributed over five years, but no resolution was announced (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 2/18). According to the Bee, state and federal officials "were hoping to have a deal they could unveil Thursday." However, the state administration said that another meeting with Leavitt next month might be possible and suggested a June deadline for finalizing an agreement (Whitney, Sacramento Bee, 2/18).
According to the Bee, Schwarzenegger's "challenge" is to attract more federal funding in order to "fundamentally restructure" Medi-Cal's payments to "safety net" hospitals, "at a time when the Bush administration is trying to rein in the amount it pays for state Medicaid programs." The Bee reports that "it is not yet clear" how President Bush's proposed budget would affect Medi-Cal.
Stan Rosenstein, deputy director of medical care services for the Department of Health Services, attended the Washington, D.C., meetings and said that federal officials are reluctant to provide funding that the state might not be able to account for in matching funds. "We haven't taken anything off the table," Rosenstein said, adding, "We continue to have very meaningful discussions. Obviously, $700 million of new money with the federal deficit is a lot of money."
Hospital groups said they could devise a way to find more state matching money if given a chance.
California Hospital Association spokesperson Barbara Glaser said, "I think first and foremost we need to get the money, and then we'll worry about matching funds. We can get pretty creative if we need to."
At a state Senate hearing on Medi-Cal on Thursday, Douglas Bagley, CEO of the Riverside County Medical Center, said, "This is a major change that is being enacted in a very short period of time, and there has been limited time for us to participate in it."
However, Rosenstein said that the federal government has indicated it wants to deal with the state and not hospitals (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 2/18).
The governor on Thursday also held a "rare" bipartisan meeting with the state's 53-member congressional delegation, during which some members of both parties insisted the delegation "draw a line in the sand" and vote as a bloc in support of increased federal funding for the state, the Bee reports (Whitney, Sacramento Bee, 2/18).
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the delegation's Democrats "clearly relished the chance" to force Republicans to choose between supporting President Bush's proposed budget and some plans that would "blow a hole" in the budget, such as increasing funding for Medi-Cal. However, most Republicans at the meeting "expressed little willingness" to "stand united against Bush's budget unless some of the state's demands are met," the Chronicle reports.
Schwarzenegger, responding to a question about whether he thought the delegation should vote against Bush's budget if it does not include more funding for California, said the state is "not asking anyone here in Washington to bail us out. We just want our fair share" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/18).
The following articles also addressed the governor's trip:
Los Angeles Daily News, "Arnold Pushes for Fair Funding" (Friedman, Los Angeles Daily News, 2/17).
Los Angeles Times: "Gov. Presses Beltway Delegation" (Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 2/18).
Orange County Register: "Governor Gets Some Support But Not on Money in D.C." (Snowden, Orange County Register, 2/18).
San Diego Union-Tribune: "Governor's Trip to Washington is Not All Smooth" (Wilkie, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/18).
- San Francisco Chronicle: "Governor Finds Trouble at Home ... and Some Trouble in D.C., Too" (Epstein/Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/18).
Summaries of broadcast coverage addressing Schwarzenegger's trip to Washington, D.C., with state legislative leaders are provided below.
- KCRW's "Which Way L.A.": The program includes comments from Schwarzenegger and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Zachary Coile (Hertzberg, "Which Way L.A.," KCRW, 2/17). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "California Report": The program includes comments from Tim Ransdell, director of the California Institute for Federal Policy Research (Myers "California Report," KQED, 2/17). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "Forum": The program includes interviews with guests Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.); John Myers, Sacramento bureau chief for KQED Radio News; Ransdell and Rep. George Radanovich (R-Calif.) (Nelson, "Forum," KQED, 2/18). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The segment includes comments from Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.); and Schwarzenegger (Myers, "Morning Edition," NPR, 2/18). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.