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Sep 6, 2016 (San Diego) It is time for us to start taking a look at the propositions on the ballot. We are going to do them in order. So with no further adieu, we start with Proposition 52, which seeks to fully dedicate funds to the Medi-Cal budget, and prevent diversion to the general fund. This is at least the goal of the initiative.
Every state in the Union has programs to fund the medical care of those with low resources. In California this is the Medi-Cal program, and the state provides matching funds to federal funds. This comes to about $2 billion dollars a year. This is necessary money to fund the program and it helps to pay for emergency room visits. and preventive care. The population that it serves are children, the elderly and the poor. So it is an important program.
The initiative partially reads:
The federal government established the Medicaid program to help pay for health care services provided to low-income patients, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, and children. In California this program is called Medi-Cal. In order for any state to receive federal Medicaid funds, the State has to contribute a matching amount of its own money.
B. In 2009, a new program was created whereby California hospitals began paying a fee to help the State obtain available federal Medicaid funds, at no cost to California taxpayers: This program has helped pay for health care for low-income children and resulted in California hospitals receiving approximately $2 billion per year in additional federal money to help hospitals to meet the needs o f Medi-Cal patients.
Prop 52 would prevent the legislature from using any of those funds, for anything but the intended use. You can find the full document, (and this one is thankfully short, and more or less straight forward) here.
Where it gets complicated is in who is behind the initiative. This leads to the criticism that this is a special interest initiate. According to Ballotpedia those behind it are:
▪ California Hospital Association9
▪ Solano County Supervisors10
▪ The California Democratic Party 11
You should also know that Rady’s Children’s hospital here in San Diego supports the initiative. It is also supported by the Grossmont Hospital system, the Sharp System, as well as Kaiser. Finally Sripps also is among the supporters. We did not find the UC system, but the last one would surprise us. They are part of the California University System after all.
This gives some credence to critics that claim that this will place money, in the billions, into the hands of special interests. Those opposed are the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who represents many of the workers who work at the hospitals.
It also has the backing of multiple Chambers of Commerce, including some from San Diego.
According to ballotpedia (and the adds that have started to run), this would:
▪ The proposition would “keep a good idea” working by extending the Medi-Cal hospital fee program.
▪ The proposition would keep legislators from diverting federal matching funds from their original purposes superfluously by requiring that voter approval be obtained first.
▪ The proposition would generate three billion dollars in federal matching funds without costing the taxpayers any money.
The opponents are just two groups. The SEIU as we posted above, and the Californians for Hospital Accountability and Quality Care. In their view this would:
▪ would divert resources from patients and communities to special interests.
▪ The proposition would not require any sort of accountability for hospital CEOs and lobbyists regarding how money is spent.
▪ The proposition would not guarantee that funds are spent on healthcare.
▪ The proposition would only favor corporations and hospital CEOs.
The war chest for those in favor of this was close to $60 million dollars in August, while the opponents had just $11.5 million.