Sacramento Bee editorial urges caution realigning county funding in state budget as part of ACA implementation

Protect the Health Care Safety Net Logo

DATE: May 9, 2013

Michael Cox, SEIU, (916) 799-6784
Gregg Fishman, CSAC, (916) 327-7500
Anthony Wright, Health Access, (916) 870-4782
Kathy Fairbanks, (916) 443-0872


Sacramento Bee editorial urges caution realigning county funding in state budget as part of ACA implementation

SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento Bee editorial today urged lawmakers to be cautious before redirecting county health care funding during state budget negotiations as part of implementation of federal healthcare reform. The Bee also opposes the Administration’s proposal to further realign additional state responsibilities to counties at this time.

Counties are the tip of the spear in the transition to federal health reform by January 1, 2014. The goal is to make the transition as smooth as can be and to enroll as many uninsured in health care programs as quickly and as easily as possible.

The Bee editorial echoes the goals of the Protect the Health Care Safety Net coalition, launched last week, which opposes efforts to prematurely redirect county health care funding. The group sent a letter to legislative leaders warning such a move would significantly erode county public health care programs and services, jeopardize the safety net and squander opportunities to invest in improved health for all Californians.

From the Bee editorial, “Big issues await state in prepping for health reform”

  • “[Counties] argue that during this three-year transition period, they will continue to cover the remaining uninsured and need to ramp up to enroll those eligible for Medi-Cal and the exchange.”
  • “Brown should heed their concern. But he should not issue the counties a blank check. Dollars should be distributed by actual numbers of the remaining uninsured cared for by the county safety net.”
  • “The LAO says that given the multitude of issues the Legislature faces with health coverage alone, the state should “avoid introducing additional issues – such as complicated shifts of authority over unrelated programs.”Brown should give this a break.”

Key policy principles for the Protect the Health Care Safety Net include:

  • Expand Medi-Cal fully and urgently to maximize federal dollars into our health system
  • Continue to help the 3-4 million Californians who will remain uninsured even after federal health reform is fully implemented
  • Protect county realignment funding and support a safety net that thrives and that continues to provide critical public health services from which the entire community benefits
  • Get it right. With 100% state reimbursement from the federal government, a more prudent approach would be to analyze implementation over the next few years to determine exactly how many uninsured moved over to Medi-Cal and Covered California and how many still will receive services from the counties.

The Protect the Health Care Safety Net coalition includes Health Access, Service Employees International Union California (SEIU), California Association of Public Hospitals, California Primary Care Association, California State Association of Counties, Los Angeles County, California Mental Health Directors Association, Western Center on Law & Poverty, County Welfare Directors Association of California, California Immigrant Policy Center, County Medical Services Program Governing Board, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, County Health Executives Association of California, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, National Council of La Raza, MALDEF, and Latino Coalition for a Healthy California.

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