Flying under the budget radar this week were two bills that frame a major restructuring of the Medi-Cal system in California.
The two bills represent about $10 billion in federal dollars coming to California. The waiver is actually negotiated between state and federal officials, and that negotiation is ongoing and due to be wrapped up by the end of this month.
But an official stamp of approval from the Legislature is an important step to eliminate confusion and ambiguity over the new ways Medi-Cal will run, and to limit lawsuits over wording in those new Medi-Cal rules.
The new waiver includes a number of innovative pilot programs designed to be a bridge to 2014, when national health care reform is scheduled to take full effect and expand the number of Californians eligible for Medi-Cal.
Since the two bills had to be passed in advance of a final draft of the federal waiver, the wording of AB 342 (John Perez, D-Los Angeles) and SB 208 (Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento) still gives the negotiators some room to maneuver.