Assembly Speaker and Bonta Introduce Bill to Improve Medi-Cal

Thursday, December 18, 2014

(SACRAMENTO, CA)- Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, announced today they are introducing legislation regarding Medi-Cal. The bill, AB 72, requires the Department of Health Care Services to request that the federal government establish a demonstration project to improve delivery of services in California's Medi-Cal program.  An important goal of the new demonstration project will be to protect the state's safety net of health care providers and to develop innovative ways to deliver quality health care.

The demonstration project, termed a waiver under federal law, will build on the success of the existing waiver known as the “Bridge to Reform" Waiver, which was initiated in 2010 as part of a five-year demonstration plan to invest in healthcare initiatives to prepare California for implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

"While we have made much progress in implementing the Affordable Care Act, our work is not done and it is time to launch a new Medi-Cal waiver to support California’s ongoing efforts to further improve the ACA," explained Assemblymember Bonta.

Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal in California, is a joint federal-state program that provides health coverage to low-income individuals. Section 1115 of the federal Social Security Act (Act) gives the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) authority to waive provisions of major health and welfare programs authorized under the Act, including certain federal Medicaid requirements. In addition, under Section 1115, states are allowed to use federal Medicaid funds in ways that are not otherwise allowed under federal law and regulation. Section 1115 waivers are approved at the discretion of the Secretary of HHS through negotiations between a state and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for projects that the Secretary determines promote Medicaid program objectives.

"I am proud that our state has increased coverage for healthcare to millions of Californians who previously never had health insurance; however I believe there is room for improvement.  We want these enhancements to be implemented carefully and therefore encourage input from stakeholders throughout the state during the legislative process.  I look forward to working with all stakeholders on this important effort," concluded Bonta. 

Assemblymember Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District including the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro.  He is the Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee.