Governor Jerry Brown made an unannounced visit to the California Medical Association’s (CMA) 41th Annual Legislative Advocacy Day on Tuesday, telling the crowd of more than 300 physicians and medical students, who had come to the Capitol to lobby their legislators, that he was glad that they were there to guide government officials in the crucial health care debates now taking place in the Capitol. “I won’t enumerate all the issues because they are too controversial,” he said, “but I am glad that you are part of the debate. We need your help.”
Brown said that closing the $700 million deficit gap, implementing the two tunnel projects in the Central Valley to bring water to Southern California and implementing high-speed rail are some of the highlights of his career. The next big challenge, he said, will be environmental innovation and preservation. “California is the leader in minimizing the impact of environmental change. Our renewable portfolio is admired by the world.”
He also said climate change is one of the long-term problems he has chosen to focus on because it directly impacts the survival of our species. “Most politicians don’t think long-term. I believe that is why I got the moniker, ‘Governor Moonbeam.’ It took a long time for us to make an impact on smoking in this state, and I think it will take some time to solve climate change. If California is going to be a leader in this, it is important that there is someone thinking about the problem long-term.”
Physician members who participated in the legislative conference spoke with their representatives about a package of CMA-sponsored bills to increase patient access to health care throughout the state.
The bills include:
SB 277 (Pan & Allen), which will remove the personal belief exemption from vaccination requirements in school and child care enrollment from the law. It will also require schools to publically provide information about their immunization rates. This will protect the community from increased outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease.
SB 243 (Hernandez) and AB 366 (Bonta), which seek to improve access to care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries by repealing recent cuts to Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates; increasing reimbursement rates for most outpatient providers to Medicare levels for both fee-for-service and Medi-Cal managed care providers and increasing hospital Medi-Cal reimbursement rates.
AB 1086 (Dababneh), which requires Knox-Keene regulated health care service plans to authorize and honor the assignment of benefit agreements and send payment directly to the out-of-network provider, when such an agreement is present. The bill also extends this requirement to individual insurance plans regulated under the California Insurance Code.
SB 289 (Mitchell), which requires health insurance companies licensed in the State of California to pay contracted physicians for telephone and electronic patient management telehealth services.