Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California celebrates 50th anniversary of Medi-Cal

Dr. Douglas Tolley, center, reads the chart of Medi-Cal patient Lucia Trejo-Perez as her daughter waits. Tolly says 70 percent of his patients are Medi-Cal recipients.
Dr. Douglas Tolley, center, reads the chart of Medi-Cal patient Lucia Trejo-Perez as her daughter waits. Tolly says 70 percent of his patients are Medi-Cal recipients. rbyer@sacbee.com

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Medi-Cal.

Today, state leaders will honor the state-federal health insurance system for the poor, recognition that coincidentally coincides with Californians casting mail ballots on three Nov. 8 propositions that have major financial implications for the program.

Medi-Cal is the largest insurer in the state and serves 13 million Californians – a number officials say ballooned in the wake of federal health care overhaul. Doctors have long argued that the reimbursement rates they receive for accepting Medi-Cal patients are too low and make it difficult to maintain a practice. As more Californians seek care through the program, a shortage of doctors serving patients is expected to grow.

The November ballot includes a trio of proposals meant to direct more money to the low-income insurance system.

If passed, Proposition 52 makes permanent a seven-year-old fee on private and public hospitals that helps pull in billions of dollars in federal matching money. Proposition 55 extends by 12 years higher personal income tax rates on the state’s wealthiest residents. Up to $2 billion of the resulting revenue would go to Medi-Cal programs annually. Proposition 56, meanwhile, adds a $2 tax to tobacco products and would generate up to $1 billion to pay for Medi-Cal reimbursement rate increases for providers.

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and California Department of Health Care Services Director Jennifer Kent headline the Medi-Cal anniversary party at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital at 9:30 a.m. today. Additional celebrations follow Wednesday in Fremont, Oakland and Berkeley.

WORTH REPEATING: “If I’d been born in America, I would’ve run.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Adweek magazine, on his interest in the presidential election.

ECONOMIC GROWTH: The Milken Institute, a nonprofit economic think tank, is pooling political heavy-hitters in Los Angeles today to establish a road map to a prosperous future. Former Gov. Gray Davis, U.S. Representative Mimi Walters and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León are among the politicians participating in the 2016 California Summit, which begins at 8:45 a.m. at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

TOMORROWLAND: Lawmakers hailed the signing of Senate Bill 32, which reduces emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, as a major step in California’s effort to fight climate change. Following up on the bill’s passage last month, the Senate Select Committee on Climate Change and AB 32 Implementation is holding an information hearing to speak with Tesla Energy, Elon Musk’s company developing a rechargeable battery that stores energy from solar panels to power homes and businesses, and other entrepreneurs working on innovative technologies that could shape the state’s energy future. The hearing begins at 10 a.m at the UCLA School of Law.

BY THE NUMBERS: No California House district has had more Super PAC activity to date than Sacramento County's 7th Congressional District, where outside spending groups bankrolled by businesses, unions and others had spent almost $5.9 million through midday Monday, 10th-most in the country. Other California congressional districts also have been getting heavy Super PAC attention this cycle. They are: the 10th Congressional District (Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock), $4 million, 17th-most nationwide; the Central Coast's 24th Congressional District (open), $2.8 million, 24th-most nationwide; the 25th Congressional District (Rep. Steve Knight, R-Lancaster), $2.7 million, 29th-most nationwide; and the 49th Congressional District (Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista), $2 million, 35th-most nationwide

Jim Miller of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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