CPMA Joins CMA in Urging Use of Prop 56 Funding as Voters Intended

The 2017-18 state budget proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown calls for using tobacco tax-generated funds from Proposition 56 to offset the state's current obligations to Medi-Cal rather than provide additional funding for provider reimbursement rates. This proposal disregards the will of the voters and the ballot measure's provisions.

The California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) supported Proposition 56, a $2 tobacco tax increase that voters passed in November to address a critical public health issue and improve access to care for the 14 million Californians who depend on the chronically underfunded Medi-Cal program for their medical needs. The ballot measure states that Proposition 56 funds designated for Medi-Cal were to be used to increase funding "by providing improved payments" for treatment and services.

There is ample research that demonstrates the State's Medi-Cal system is struggling from protracted underfunding. As a result, California ranks among the lowest in the nation in payments to providers. These chronically low reimbursement rates have a direct effect on Medi-Cal patients' ability to receive timely treatment from a physician.

Currently, poor provider reimbursement rates mean that only 40 percent of California's physicians provide 80 percent of Medi-Cal visits. As a result, more than half of Medi-Cal enrollees report difficulty finding a primary or specialty care physician. Medi-Cal patients are more likely than those with private insurance or Medicare to postpone needed care due to long appointment wait times, leading to unnecessary, costly emergency room visits. Not only do these unnecessary emergency visits increase state costs; they inflate emergency room wait times for Californians experiencing true medical emergencies. To fix these problems, California must increase rates so that it is viable for more providers to participate in the system.