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Broad coalition opposes Medi-Cal rate cuts

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A broad-based coalition of California’s health care providers announced late Wednesday that they have come together to invest in a joint statewide campaign called “We Care for California” to support successful implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in California and to oppose further rate cuts to California’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal.

The coalition includes the largest statewide organizations representing physicians, dentists, hospitals and health care workers, as well as health plans, first responders, caregivers and other health providers.

They announced their strong support for Senate Bill 640 and Assembly Bill 900, reversing implementation of cuts to provider rates that are already the lowest in the nation.

“What good does it do our communities if they have healthcare coverage, but cannot get in to see a doctor? If we want healthy communities we need to provide access to quality and preventative care,” Sen. Ricardo Lara said. “SB 640 is critical for California’s success in leading the nation as we embark upon full implementation of federal health care reform, especially for those that are most vulnerable.”

In the coming weeks, these groups will launch a coordinated, grass-roots public awareness campaign, including a full statewide field and media effort, to increase policymaker and public awareness of the threat these cuts pose to health care access, especially in rural and underserved communities – and, as a result, to the highly-anticipated expansion of health care under ACA.

“Every provider in California’s vast health care delivery system unequivocally agrees with the simple notion that more Californians must have access to quality health care – when and where they need it – but that quality care is going to be less available and affordable in California if we continue to cut our system to the bone,” said Dr. Paul R. Phinney, president of the California Medical Association.

“We’ve come together today because we are all bound by our common passion for helping Californians lead healthier lives,” said Michelle Ross, a patient registration clerk at Methodist Hospital of Sacramento, representing SEIU-UHW United Healthcare Workers West. “Together, we are determined to successfully implement the ACA and ensure it is working for all Californians, but that can only happen if we are adequately funding our system.”

“Assembly Bill 900 and Senate Bill 640 critical to all of California, because they reverse devastating Medi-Cal cuts that were enacted in 2011, but which have yet to be implemented,” said Coalinga Regional Medical Center’s Sharon A. Spurgeon, representing the California Hospital Association. “For hospital-skilled nursing facilities, should these cuts be made, and made retroactively, what is today a crisis due to the lack of these services would become catastrophic for patients and their families, health care workers, hospitals and the communities they serve.”

The American Medical Response group, part of the plaintiff group engaged in a lawsuit to stop the cuts joined the group today and said that “SB 640 and AB 900 will ensure that private 9-1-1 ambulance providers, which service 70 percent of California, will continue to be able to provide life saving emergency medical services to the patients that need it most.”

Members of the We Care for California Coalition include the California Medical Association, California Hospital Association, California Primary Care Association, Dignity Health, SEIU-UHW, California Association of Physicians Groups, the California Dental Association, Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente, Health Net and Molina Healthcare.