May 14, 2020
Today, Governor Gavin Newsom released his administration’s revised state budget proposal (the “May Revise”) for 2020-21, which is facing an approximate $54 billion deficit due to COVID-19. That figure is higher than the deficit during the Great Recession and nearly 37% of the state’s general fund.
The May Revise proposed approximately $269 million in cuts to CalHealthCares, which administers loan repayments on educational debt for California physicians and dentists who serve Medi-Cal patients. Medi-Cal serves over one-third of Californians and half of the state’s children, and the state is estimating a two million caseload increase in 2020 due to COVID-19. Over $340 million was appropriated as a one-time expenditure in 2019, and the remaining $67.1 million in 2019 awards would continue to be honored. However, should the legislature approve this proposal, CalHealthCares would be eliminated.
The budget proposal also included a $1.5 million increase to backfill and maintain CalMedForce, which administers annual grants to fund new residency positions at graduate medical education (GME) programs throughout California.
Both programs are publicly funded through voter-approved tobacco tax revenues (Proposition 56 in 2016) and administered by Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC).
The budget process includes legislative review so a final decision may not be available until the state budget is approved, on or around June 15, 2020.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” said Lupe Alonzo-Diaz, PHC President and CEO. “And we urge the state legislature to reinstate CalHealthCares’ funding. Now more than ever, California needs a strong and diverse workforce to provide quality, timely and affordable health care, particularly to underserved and vulnerable populations. Our goal remains transparent and rapid communication with our applicants and awardees, and we will continue to provide updates once we have confirmed information.”
“We must remain hopeful,” said Alonzo-Diaz. “PHC’s partnership with the California Medical Association (CMA) is even more crucial in these uncertain times because they sponsored Proposition 56 and have committed to work with stakeholders to advocate in support of increased access to quality health care.”
Impacted by the proposed budget cuts? The California Medical Association (CMA) and California Dental Association (CDA) sponsored Proposition 56 to ensure Medi-Cal patients receive quality and timely health care. CMA and CDA are asking physicians and dentists to help the legislature understand the need to protect access to care for Medi-Cal patients, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Take action by visiting CMA's mobilize4change.org/yLxm8Ch or by texting CMA LRP to 52886.
You can also make your voice heard on social media – please be sure to utilize #CalHealthCares and #CaBudget, as well as tag @PHCdocs, @GavinNewsom and your local state legislators.