CA Health Advocates Highlight Key & Urgent Health Investments, Including #Health4All

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California,, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California,, 916-532-2128 (cell)


Respond to Budget Letter from CA Department of Finance & Approval of Some Medi-Cal Emergency Waivers by Federal Government

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, the California Department of Finance released a budget letter to suggest a focus to a “workload budget” for 2020-2021, with limited new investments to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Here is a statement from Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition:

“Understanding the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, this public health emergency also demands urgent actions to continue to expand coverage and invest in our health system at this critical time. While focusing on extending the existing budget, the Department of Finance appropriately recognizes that specific investments may be needed to contain the COVID-19 crisis, to protect public health and prevent further financial harm for families and the state.

“Some investments that should still be considered include ensuring Californians can get the care and coverage they need so that families don’t face financial barriers to get testing and treatment.

“The budget proposal to provide Medi-Cal to all income-eligible seniors, regardless of immigration status, is now more urgent than ever. California should not delay, and in fact should expedite this planned expansion to this at-risk population that is currently excluded from coverage.”

Also today, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved some of the emergency 1135 waivers requested by the California Department of Health Services earlier this month, including ones providing greater flexibility with regard to prior authorizations, provider enrollment in Medi-Cal, and offering care in alternative settings. Other emergency requests are still pending.

“We commend the state and federal governments on working together to provide flexibility at this unprecedented time. These approvals will mean that patients don’t have to go through new hoops to get treatments, that out-of-state providers can get practicing as soon as possible, and our health system can use alternative settings for care as appropriate.”

“We hope the federal government will provide some of the other emergency resources and flexibility requested, including the ability for emergency Medi-Cal to cover not just COVID-19 testing but treatment as well.”