A report from DC

On Friday, California Assembly Speaker John Perez provided a report on his trip to Washington, and in particular on help for the California budget situation. Of news value, he reports that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes the Congress will pass the extension of additional FMAP–the enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds that is worth over $1.5 billion to our Medi-Cal program–by the end of the month.

He also spotlights the work to implement health reform, both in expanded coverage options and in new patient protections.

This week Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and I traveled to Washington DC as part of our effort to work more closely with our partners in the California Congressional delegation and President Obama’s administration to make sure that Californians have the federal support we need to ensure a strong and lasting economic recovery takes root in California.

This was a very productive trip. And I’m pleased to report significant progress with federal reimbursement requests at meetings we held with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the California Congressional delegation. We also had a number of very productive discussions with members of the Obama administration, including a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, where we discussed California’s budget and the implementation of federal health care reform.

One of the most important items we discussed is a six month extension of the enhanced federal match the state receives for its Medi-Cal program that serves California’s low income seniors, disabled, and children and their families. This extension is worth $1.5 billion to the California budget.

We were heartened to hear from Speaker Pelosi that she expects this to pass by the end of the month.

We also worked with our federal partners on implementing health care reform in our state so that Californians can begin to take advantage of extended coverage options and groundbreaking new patient protections as soon as possible.

California is clearly in a health care crisis. And the new protections in this bill, including outlawing practices of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, are a vital of our economic recovery.

At the state level, work continues on legislation I’ve introduced that helps Californians take advantage of the newly expanded coverage and patient protections.

Of course job creation continues to be our main focus at the state level and I’m pleased our meetings in Washington this week show we have a strong partnership in those efforts.
I look forward to continued cooperation at every level, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to maximize the tools we need to create jobs, balance the budget and protect Californians.

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