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State Lawmakers Now Turn To Budget Negotiations


After rolling through more than 700 bills last week, California lawmakers are now turning to budget negotiations.

One of the big debates is over how to spend more than a billion dollars in new cigarette tax revenues slated for health care.

Lawmakers in both parties want to direct Proposition 56 money toward increasing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for doctors, dentists and other providers.

Francisco Silva with the California Medical Association says doctors struggle to provide care to Medi-Cal patients because reimbursement rates are too low.

"The funds are supposed to be used to improve provider payments, to improve access to care for Medi-Cal patients," says Silva.

The Senate's plan would give rate increases to doctors in high-need areas, while the Assembly wants to incentivize doctors to take on more patients by giving rate increases based on caseloads.

But Governor Jerry Brown wants the money to go toward Medi-Cal's overall rising costs.

That's because California chose to expand Medi-Cal under Obamacare to an additional 3 million people. And under the law, the state must take on an increasing share of the costs.

H.D. Palmer is with the governor's Finance Department.

"It fulfills the intent of the voters by expanding health care services to low-income individuals by putting this money into expanded Medi-Cal services," says Palmer.

The governor and legislative Democrats are working to reach a budget agreement this week in order to meet their deadline of June 15th.


Sally Schilling

Reporter/Podcast Producer

Sally Schilling is a Davis native and a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She has reported on redwood poachers robbing national forests in Humboldt County and the dangers of melting tropical glaciers in the Peruvian Andes.  Read Full Bio 

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