Largest Healthcare Rally Ever in CA Opposes Medi-Cal Cuts

[June 4, 2013] SACRAMENTO, CA – Thousands of healthcare providers from across California converged on the state capitol today for the largest healthcare rally in state history. The event, called “WE ARE MEDI-CAL,” illustrated broad public concern about the threat of $1 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal, and its effect on healthcare access, especially in rural and underserved communities.

“Med-Cal is the foundation of California’s healthcare safety net, but the planned cuts would shred this valuable program and leave those most dependent on it in even worse shape,” said C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO of the California Hospital Association. “This is not the time to undermine Californians’ access to healthcare.”

The rally was organized by “We Care for California,” a coalition formed this year to expand access to quality healthcare for all Californians and to oppose further rate cuts to Medi-Cal. It is the state’s largest coalition of healthcare stakeholders, including major statewide organizations representing physicians, dentists, hospitals, community clinics, first responders, health workers, caregivers, and major health plans.

“We’re here to show Governor Brown and the legislature that during flush budget times, healthcare shouldn’t be targeted for cuts,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. “We all know someone who benefits from Medi-Cal – whether it’s those who receive care or all the professionals who provide it on a daily basis – and they shouldn’t be asked to sacrifice anymore.”

A statewide poll released last week showed 62 percent of Californians support restoring $1 billion in funding to Medi-Cal. The poll of 1,000 likely voters was conducted May 21-23 by Benenson Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies, whose clients include Republicans and Democrats.

“It’s important that access to care isn’t just an empty promise with an insurance card,” said Paul R. Phinney, M.D., CMA president. “The state simply cannot continue to balance the budget on the backs of California’s poorest and most vulnerable patients, and as part of this coalition, CMA and our 37,000 members join the overwhelming majority of Californians in opposing cuts to Medi-Cal.”

The Medi-Cal cuts were enacted in 2011, but were halted by a lawsuit filed by healthcare leaders. However, a federal court recently allowed the cuts to stand, and now the legislature is advancing two bills to permanently stop the cuts: SB 640 and AB 900, which have strong bipartisan support in both chambers.

“The life-giving mosaic of healthcare providers in California – physicians, nurses, service and technical workers, home care providers, nursing home caregivers, hospital leaders, and first responders, will not sit idly by and witness the collapse of the lives of our fellow Californians,” said Ollie Allen, a Medical Assistant at Kaiser-Vallejo.

The coalition includes American Medical Response, Anthem BlueCross, Blue Shield of California, California Association of Physician Groups, California Dental Association, California Hospital Association, California Medical Association, California Primary Care Association, Dignity Health, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Molina Healthcare, and SEIU – United Healthcare Workers West.

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