Sacramento Business Journal: Hospitals file ballot initiative to protect Medi-Cal pay

Senior Staff Writer-Sacramento Business Journal

The California Hospital Association filed a ballot initiative Thursday aimed at ensuring hospital funds intended to pay for care provided to Medi-Cal patients are not diverted by lawmakers for other purposes.

About 800,000 signatures will be needed to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot.

If approved by voters, the measure would prohibit the governor and the Legislature from imposing a provider fee on hospitals unless the money and matching federal funds are used to pay for hospital care provided to Medi-Cal patients.

Since 2009, California hospitals have agreed to pay a fee that generates about $3 billion annually. Since Medi-Cal is a jointly funded by the state and the federal government, the extra money is used to draw down additional federal money for the program.

As part of the agreement, hospitals have supported the state taking a small portion of the fee money to pay for health care for children.

But the state, wracked by budget woes, has diverted some of the hospital fee money to the state’s general fund for other purposes. The amount in fiscal 2013-14 is $620 million. Hospitals lose that money — and the federal match for that amount.

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