In the early morning hours…

In the last hours of the legislative session, literally between 5:30AM and 6AM Saturday September 12, the California Legislature passed AB1383 by Assemblyman Dave Jones which will create a hospital provider fee that will be used to fund children’s coverage and to improve Medi-Cal reimbursement to hospitals (now 51st in the nation). It passed the Senate 24-5 and the Assembly 52-22 as a fee measure. In the Senate, the vote was party-line, in the Assembly a few Republicans voted in support.

Because the Senate Republicans were blockading all two-thirds vote measures on the last day of the legislative session over un-related budget matters, the bill has been amended to eliminate the urgency clause and to go into effect January 1, 2010 so that it no longer required a two-thirds vote. The amendment also eliminated the appropriation that would have funded the work of the Department of Health Care Services in implementing the measure.

The amendments also included some seemingly minor tweaks to the formula or model that were needed to bring it into compliance with federal requirements for the provider fee.

At this moment, we do not know whether the elimination of the urgency clause means half-year money for the fiscal year 2009-10 or full-year money. Provider fees take months to implement in any case.

Whether it is six months worth of better funding for hospitals and children’s coverage or a full year, Health Access is supportive of the measure.

More importantly, we do not know how the Schwarzenegger Administration will respond to the revised measure. So there is work to do to persuade the Governor to sign the bill.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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