Medi-Cal Expansion Delays Could Cost State Hundreds of Millions

For Immediate Release
April 11, 2013
For More Information Contact:
Michael Cox (916) 799-6784

Los Angeles, CA – Health care officials and advocates came together in Los Angeles today urging state elected officials to act quickly to prevent hundreds of millions of federal dollars from being lost if California fails to fully implement Obamacare by January 1, 2014.   Leading the charge is a broad coalition that includes Health Access California, SEIU, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Community Health Councils Inc., the Children’s Partnership and the National Health Law Program.

“After years of tough budget cuts and with a health system that needs all the help it can get, it would be a shame for California to send federal Medicaid dollars back to Washington because we weren’t ready,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “Governor Brown needs to expand Medi-Cal fully and urgently, so one million Californians can get coverage and care, and our health system gets all the federal funding we are entitled to. California can’t let short-sightedness squander our best chance to fulfill the promise of health reform, for all Californians.”

The clock is ticking for California’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  Our state emerged as a national leader in development of the health insurance exchange, Covered California, which will help individuals and small businesses purchase affordable coverage.  But action has stalled on a critical piece of Obamacare: expanding the Medi-Cal program to cover low-income working families who will be left out of the exchange system.  (Special Session bills ABX-1 and SBX-1.)

“Private Insurance is out of my financial reach so I was elated to learn that I qualified for coverage under Healthy Way LA,” said Healthy LA consumer Nita Thompson.   “I now have access to doctors, specialists, and medication and can control my symptoms and prevent a medical crisis.  If not for Healthy Way L.A., I believe I would have died a long time ago.  Everyone deserves access to quality healthcare.”

If California acts now, over one million currently uninsured Californians will have access to insurance through Medi-Cal, fully funded by the federal government for three years, and federally funded at 90% thereafter.

Experts say Medi-Cal expansion legislation must be in place by June 1, 2013 for the state to be ready to enroll new Medi-Cal clients by January 1, 2013.  For each month of delay, California will lose hundreds of millions of federal dollars, and California will have left hard-working families uninsured. 

“Sacramento must act now to strengthen the healthcare systems that provide care for our families, and help grow California’s economy through the creation of quality healthcare jobs,” said Robin Ellis, a registered nurse practitioner at LAC-USC.

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