In an interview for a California Healthline special audio report, Jack Lewin, CEO and executive vice president of the California Medical Association, said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) efforts to address health care issues in his State of the State Address and fiscal year 2006-2007 state budget proposal have fallen short.
Lewin said a 5% decrease in Medi-Cal provider payments, which took effect Jan. 1, will negatively impact access to care in the state. CMA will sponsor legislation in the near future to eliminate the payment rate reductions, Lewin said.
Lewin called Schwarzenegger’s proposed allocation of $72 million in the budget to enroll uninsured children in Healthy Families and Medi-Cal a “nice gesture,” but he contrasted that with the absence of a call for $1.7 million for the recreation of a state public health agency — a legislative effort CMA also is supporting. Lewin said Medi-Cal, which costs the state $35 million per hour, “dwarfs anything we do in public health.” Lewin said the public health system in California is “under funded,” “undervalued,” and unprepared to handle public health emergencies, such as a potential avian flu pandemic or bioterrorism event.
In addition, Lewin in the interview discussed CMA’s agenda for 2006, including universal access to care in the state and the “endangered profession” of medicine (Rebillot, California Healthline, 1/17).
The complete audio of the interview is available online for download in mp3 format.
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