Earlier today, Governor Schwarzenegger signed one bill, AB 1653, authored by Assemblyman Dave Jones, which moves California closer to claiming more federal dollars for our state’s beleaguered health care system. The additional $3.2 billion in federal funds for health care would be used to increase Medi-Cal payments to hospitals, and to help prevent cuts in children’s health coverage.
The bill is an update from Assemblyman Jones’ AB 1383 from 2009, and was the result of negotiations with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to get approval for a Hospital Provider Fee program proposed in that earlier legislation, which allows California to draw down the additional federal funding. The bill also allows California to better take advantage of the enhanced federal matching funds that are available under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) for the 21 months spanning April 1, 2009, to December 31, 2010. Payments will be made retroactively.
When the effort started before the passage of federal health reform, the dollars are helpful in sustaining our health system as it prepares for full implementation in 2014; and for preventing further cuts as part of our ongoing budget crisis.
Hopefully, this will help seal the negotiation and get the final approval from the federal government on the hospital provider fee and these federal dollars.
This welcome development just serves as a preview to two other, urgent questions: 1) the status of the state’s negotiations with CMS on the bigger Medicaid waiver, and 2) the Governor’s actions on the bills on his desk on other health issues, including the implementation of federal health reform.