October 13, 2016
This November, a diverse group of nearly 1,000 health care providers, businesses, taxpayer groups, labor organizations and children’s advocates from across the state are voting Yes on Proposition 52, the Medi-Cal Funding and Accountability Act.
A 2009 partnership between the state and California hospitals has provided about $18 billion in federal funds to help pay for health care services for the state’s approximately 13.5 million Medi-Cal patients. The hospitals have voluntarily provided the matching amount required for these federal programs. Proposition 52 will continue this partnership, with no new cost to California taxpayers. Without Proposition 52, children, low-income families and seniors could be at risk of losing access to critical health care services. In fact, nearly one in three Plumas County residents relies on MediCal services (of approximately 18,900 residents, 5,862 are on MediCal*). In Plumas County’s three hospitals, this likely would mean that we could no longer provide certain important outpatient hospital services to MediCal patients—including lab, x-ray, and other imaging services. Even ambulance and emergency services could be affected for our MediCal patients.
California taxpayers and those with private health insurance also will benefit from Proposition 52. Another possible avenue for funding if Proposition 52 fails is for taxpayers to pay higher taxes, and/or for those with commercial insurance coverage to have their premiums increased.
Further, this measure ensures the funds are spent on Medi-Cal, as intended. Proposition 52 prevents the Legislature from diverting these funds and using them for any other purposes. There is strict oversight at both the state and federal levels on how these funds can be spent.
Locally, these matching funds are also paying for new projects at all three of our county’s hospitals—projects meant to provide services that will better our communities. Early in 2016, each hospital applied for and received a five year, $3.5 million incentive payment (each hospital provides $3.5 million, and state administered federal matching funds make up the other half). These funds are being used to implement services that our small, rural hospitals wouldn’t be able to afford without this federal support.
At Eastern Plumas Health Care, the funds are being used to create a new Behavioral Health Program. For the first time, patients will be able to see a psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed clinical social worker for their behavioral health needs. In addition, these services will be integrated with their primary care, making for the best possible “whole person” care for each patient.
Plumas District Hospital’s project involves the comprehensive management of chronic, non-malignant pain. They are focusing on best prescribing practices among providers, with goals of reducing the total number of narcotic prescriptions and average doses of narcotics prescribed. It includes team centered care to identify addiction as well as psychiatric co-conditions such as depression and anxiety. A newly recruited pain specialist physician will provide targeted non-narcotic interventions for pain relief.
Seneca Healthcare District is implementing a Care Coordination Program that integrates inpatient and outpatient care. The Program will facilitate timely communication between patients’ healthcare team members and will encourage patients to take an active role in their own care.
Finally, Proposition 52 helps reduce losses incurred by our hospitals when we provide services to Medi-Cal patients. By continuing this hospital funding program, we ensure that much needed services for all of our patients are protected.
*Population statistics from US Census Bureau, 2013; MediCal statistics from ourhealthcalifornia.org