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Budget Passage Not the Final Word

Health care advocates have not slowed their lobbying in Sacramento, even after the Legislature passed an on-time balanced budget on Monday.

On Wednesday, for instance, a 24-hour protest is planned outside the Capitol Building. Advocates who want to support the child care effort in California have announced they will hold an all-day, all-night vigil on the Capitol steps to push the governor to sign the budget as it stands.

The governor has stated opposition to a number of health care provisions passed in Monday’s budget, including full-scope Medi-Cal coverage of the state’s undocumented children.

“This budget begins, if minimally, to reinvest in the needs of the people of California,” said state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who chairs the Senate budget committee.

One of those needs is access to Medi-Cal providers, particularly with more demand for those providers with the expansion of Medi-Cal. Increasing access to care is the reasoning behind a limited restoration of the 10% Medi-Cal provider rate cut instituted in 2011 during the budget crisis that year.

“Increased funding for the Medi-Cal program will improve patient access to quality health care and ensure our communities are receiving the preventative treatments they need to stay healthy,” said Luther Cobb, president of the California Medical Association.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) could use a line-item veto to remove some of the Legislature’s work, and trailer bills still need to be negotiated, so budget talks are far from finished.

“Our state is on firm financial footing and that stability gives us an opportunity which has been rare in recent years,” said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

Monday’s budget includes:

  • Funding for full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented children and possibly some undocumented adults;
  • Increased reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal providers, including dentists;
  • Restoration of adult dental services in Medi-Cal;
  • Restoration of acupuncture, audiology, podiatry and speech therapy Medi-Cal benefits;
  • Restoration of school-based dental services; and
  • Overtime pay for In-Home Supportive Services providers and home health workers.

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