In an election year marked by division and conflict, here’s something novel – a California ballot measure upon which so many people and organizations agree.
There’s a good reason that Proposition 52 – the Medi-Cal Funding and Accountability Act – enjoys such diverse support from labor, business and health care groups and from both sides of the political aisle. It promises to continue access to vital health care for more than 13.5 million Californians, or one in every three of the state’s residents.
Since 2009, California has received $18 billion in federal matching funds to pay for patients enrolled in Medi-Cal. That was made possible by a partnership between the state and community hospitals that was designed to ensure that these available federal dollars are put to good use in California. Those funds help provide essential health care services, especially during economic downturns. The hospital fee program has been a win for taxpayers, the state’s most vulnerable residents, and health care providers.
This partnership is especially important throughout the Central Valley. In both Sacramento and Fresno counties, 500,000 are enrolled in Medi-Cal. In Tulare County, 257,000 receive coverage from Medi-Cal, while 182,000 are enrolled in San Joaquin County.
The current law protecting this funding expires in 2017. Passage of Proposition 52 removes that sunset date, eliminating political uncertainty, and also prohibits lawmakers from diverting these Medi-Cal dollars to pay for anything other than their intended purpose.
Proposition 52 also protects taxpayers. Without federal matching dollars, taxpayers would be required to contribute more to support Medi-Cal. Working people with private or job-based health insurance would be at risk of having their premiums raised to subsidize Medi-Cal to make up for the lost federal funds.
Supporters of Proposition 52 include nearly 1,000 health advocacy groups, hospitals, and community, senior and children’s organizations. The list includes nontraditional allies such as the California Labor Federation and California Chamber of Commerce and both the California Republican and Democratic parties.
Medi-Cal has been a safety net for millions of Californians for 50 years. Proposition 52 continues a successful program that ensures continued access to quality health care for children, seniors and low-income families. Voting “yes” on this good idea should be one of the easiest decisions for California voters this fall.
C. Duane Dauner is president/CEO of the California Hospital Association. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: There is no longer any organized opposition to Proposition 52. The SEIU-UHW, which was leading the opposition, declined to submit a viewpoint.