Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Natomas), a primary care physician, has been advocating pretty strongly for specialists and for the state’s children who benefit from their care.
Last week, physicians and patients gathered at a clinic in Sacramento to promote Pan’s AB 301, which would extend the deadline for funding the California Childrenâs Services program (CCS) by about four years.
The CCS program ensures access to specialists for about 185,000 children with severe and chronic health conditions in California.
“I take care of a lot of these patients, so I’ve seen the need,” Pan said. The Assembly member is also a pediatrician. “As important as primary care is, it doesnât mean you donât need subspecialists, and without a program like CCS, these kids wouldn’t have access to subspecialists across the state.”
Pan said pilot programs have been launched that could maintain a similar level of care in Medi-Cal managed care, which is the direction in coverage that state officials have been heading. Pan’s bill would delay the sunset date of the program from the start of 2012 to the start of 2016 (recently revised from a previous end date of July 2016).
“We want the state to have the time to evaluate the pilots first,” Pan said. “They’re just being implemented. So this extends the managed care carve-out till we have more information from those pilot studies, to ensure kids get the care they need.”
The CCS program is a $1.9 billion a year carve-out, but cost to the state is unlikely to change, whether the bill is passed or not, according to Senate Appropriations staff analysis. The Department of Health Care Services has indicated it will continue the program, the report said.
The bill has been changed since the most recent version was amended on June 23. The sunset date has been moved from July 2016 to January 2016, so it would extend the current CCS program for an additional four years, instead of four-and-a-half years.
The bill will be heard in the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Thursday. If it passes Appropriations, it heads to the legislative floor for a final vote.