Public Health Care Systems Applaud Governor Newsom’s Commitment to COVID-19 Relief and Equity in State Budget
OAKLAND, CA, January 8, 2021 – Today, Governor Newsom announced the FY 2021-2022 Budget proposal, which includes key investments in COVID-19 relief and initiatives to advance equity in Medi-Cal.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, California’s public health care systems have been serving an integral role in the state’s COVID-19 response, particularly for those who are most vulnerable. “As we face this unprecedented surge, additional resources and supports are needed now more than ever,” said Erica Murray, President and CEO, California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH). “We appreciate the Governor’s investment of $300 million to help support the vaccine distribution, as well as funding for testing and contact tracing. Public health care systems will continue to work side-by-side with their hospital and county partners to serve and protect patients.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the longstanding racial and ethnic disparities in our health care system, realities disproportionately felt by the Medi-Cal population and the safety net providers that serve them. To help address this issue, the Governor made several investments in the Medi-Cal program that seek to improve health equity, including $1.1 billion to implement California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM), and a commitment to extend telehealth flexibilities, among other proposals.
CalAIM, a broad delivery system and payment reform initiative, aims to better integrate services and address the social determinants of health for those most vulnerable, including those who are homeless, at risk of being without a home, or facing other hardships. This initiative builds upon the work underway in the Whole Person Care program, which is comprised of local pilots often led by public health care systems that provide comprehensive and tailored care to high-risk and complex patients.
“The value of Whole Person Care has never shined brighter than during the pandemic, where already established partnerships and data infrastructure were quickly activated to provide a range of coordinated clinical and social services for our most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations,” said Murray. “As we continue this important work during COVID-19 and beyond, we look forward to working with the State to ensure a smooth transition of this critical program.”
To support telehealth in the long term for Medi-Cal patients, the Governor also committed to make permanent certain telehealth flexibilities authorized under COVID-19 for Medi-Cal providers, including $94.8 million for remote monitoring as a new covered benefit.
“Over the past year, telehealth, including both video and phone visits, has been essential in allowing patients to access care during the crisis, demonstrating the ways in which this modality can increase access and break down barriers to care,” said Murray. “Telehealth provides a doorway to more equitable care, especially for low-income patients. We are encouraged that the State has acknowledged the continued need for telehealth services, and we look forward to partnering with the State on this issue.”
About the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems
The California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH) represents California’s 21 public health care systems, which include county-affiliated systems and the five University of California academic medical centers. Together, these systems form the core of the state’s health care safety net. Though accounting for just 6% of hospitals in the state, public health care systems operate in 15 counties where more than 80% of the state’s population lives. They provide 40% of all hospital care to California’s remaining uninsured and 35% of all hospital care to Medi-Cal beneficiaries in the communities they serve. These 21 health care systems serve 2.85 million patients annually, operate more than 200 outpatient clinic facilities, and provide more than 10 million outpatient visits each year. They operate more than half of California’s top-level burn and trauma centers, and train more than half of all new doctors in hospitals across the state. For more information, visit www.caph.org
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