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Brown's Resistance To Medi-Cal Rate Increases Spurs Ballot Push

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses state funding for Medi-Cal, California's health care program for the poor, as he releases his revised budget proposal on May 13, 2014.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Doctors, hospitals and health care advocacy groups are hoping two November ballot measures will do what they’ve been unable to do at the state Capitol: Bring more money to California’s health care program for the poor.

The industry groups have tried for years to get more state funding for Medi-Cal – California’s version of Medicaid. They argue that as Medi-Cal’s population grows under the Affordable Care Act, there simply aren’t enough doctors willing to treat patients because the state’s payment rates are too low.

But they’ve run into a roadblock.

Gov. Jerry Brown's office ”has indicated that they would veto any measure the Legislature put through to increase funding,” says Dr. Steven Larson with the California Medical Association, the advocacy group for doctors. ”So the people will have to determine if they want decent access to health care for all of the citizens of California.”

Both Proposition 55, the tax extension on wealthy Californians, and Proposition 56, the tobacco tax increase, would send some of the revenue to Medi-Cal.

The Brown administration says simply increasing provider rates across the board does nothing to improve patient access, and that California has already increased Medi-Cal spending in recent years by $3 billion.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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