Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Thousands expected to rally on Medi-Cal

Dr. Douglas Tolly checks on Medi-Cal patient Ana Santos, 20, of Yuba City, who is four months pregnant with her first child. Tolly says 70 percent of his patients are Medi-Cal recipients. Photo taken September 15, 2011 in Yuba City.
Dr. Douglas Tolly checks on Medi-Cal patient Ana Santos, 20, of Yuba City, who is four months pregnant with her first child. Tolly says 70 percent of his patients are Medi-Cal recipients. Photo taken September 15, 2011 in Yuba City. rbyer@sacbee.com

Year after year, pressure from the health care industry has failed to convince Gov. Jerry Brown to reverse a 10 percent cut in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates that he authorized in 2011.

But with ballooning state coffers and a growing call from legislative Democrats to “reinvest” in health and welfare services, a budget deal may be in the works. Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program from the poor, now serves about a third of Californians.

An unusual alliance between organized labor and medical interests, which recently launched a $10 million advertising campaign, is working to keep up the heat. We Care for California – which includes hospitals, insurance companies, the California Medical Association and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West – will rally on the west steps of the Capitol at 11 a.m., arguing that low reimbursement rates make it unaffordable for doctors to accept Medi-Cal patients.

DEADLINING: Friday's the final shot to pass bills out of their houses of origin, which leads to today's unusual Tuesday floor sessions. The Assembly churned through almost 100 mostly non-controversial bills on Monday, leading to cheers as the house adjourned before 4, while the Senate passed more controversial measures to boost the minimum wage and crack down on wage theft. Back to the grind in both houses this morning.

DRY RIVER: April opened with California snowpack at a record low and Brown’s unprecedented order to cut urban water use by 25 percent. Did Californians get the message about our historic drought? State water regulators will release water usage numbers today for the month of April, including estimated daily water use per person and water use by community.

TRACK THE LEGISLATURE: What's influencing lawmakers' actions? A new data feature in our legislative directory at sacbee.com lets you explore which interests are the biggest givers to each member. You'll also find key political and census information about every district, including unemployment and poverty rates.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, who turns 64 today.

READ MORE: With Medi-Cal ranks swelling, health care industry funds campaign to raise rates

Alexei Koseff: (916) 321-5236, @akoseff

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