Sacramento, CA – As Governor Jerry Brown returns from China, Assembly Health Committee Chair Dr. Richard Pan, Senate Health Committee Chair Dr. Ed Hernandez, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and a broad coalition of health care officials and advocates welcomed him home with a reminder that the clock is ticking on a critical piece of Obamacare.
If the Governor does not agree to sign legislation to expand Medi-Cal soon, over one million low-income, working Californians will be left without coverage as healthcare reform is implemented. For each month of delay, California will lose hundreds of millions of federal dollars.
The advocates asked Governor Brown to lead California to fully and urgently implement the federally-paid for Medi-Cal expansion so over one million Californians can get coverage and care, and so California can collect all the federal funding to which the state is entitled.
“California must take aggressive action now to implement the Medi-Cal expansion fully and urgently, for our health system and our economy,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “California can’t risk starting the Medi-Cal expansion late, and losing federal dollars.
“The federal government will fully fund Medi-Cal coverage for newly eligible Californians for the first three years, and not below ninety percent funding into the future,” said Senator Hernandez. “For every day that we don’t enroll people in the Medi-Cal expansion come January 1, 2014, that’s millions of dollars California would leave unclaimed in Washington, DC, not coming into our health system and economy.”
“As a physician caring for Medi-Cal and uninsured patients, I understand the difference Medi-Cal coverage makes for people’s health,” said Assemblymember Pan. “Through the ACA, with full expansion, California has the opportunity to include more than one million Californians in Medi-Cal and bring billions in federal funds each year to the California economy. California needs to act urgently to implement the Medi-Cal expansion on time so Californians will receive the maximum benefit.”
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve the health of millions of Californians, strengthen the healthcare systems that provide care for our families, and help grow California’s economy through the creation of quality healthcare jobs,” said Laphonza Butler, President of SEIU California. “However, if Medi-Cal expansion isn’t our state’s top priority and action taken now, California could fall short – leaving over a million lives without the healthcare they need.”
“I am a public health advocate because I’ve seen in my own life how important health care is. Medi-Cal expansion will help millions of Californians. I know, because my mother is one of them,” said Adrian Sanchez, a healthcare consumer who shared his story. “Getting a full Medi-Cal expansion would give my mom the security of having health coverage; it would mean not having to choose between paying the rent and getting the treatment that she really needs. For millions of families, these are their everyday realities.”
Leading the charge to protect the healthcare of Californians and ensure the state collects its share of federal Affordable Care Act funding are Speaker John Pérez, President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Asm. Dr. Richard Pan, Sen. Dr. Ed Hernandez and a broad coalition that includes Health Access California, SEIU, the Children’s Defense Fund-California, Community Health Councils Inc., the Children’s Partnership, Consumer’s Union, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, the California Primary Care Association, the Greenlining Institute, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc., and the National Health Law Program.