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CEO Message

CEO Message: Health Care a Focus of Newsom’s New Budget

Last week, Gov. Newsom announced his 2020-21 state budget proposal, a $222 billion spending plan with three key priorities:

  • Homelessness
  • Health care affordability
  • Wildfires

The Homelessness Crisis

The proposed budget attempts to address the root causes of the state’s homeless crisis, primarily through investments in housing, rental subsidies, county services, and transforming the Medi-Cal program. In the meantime, hospitals will — as you always have — do all you can to help the people experiencing homelessness who walk through your doors. On this issue, we’ll stay engaged as statewide proposals unfold, sharing our view with elected officials that the best solutions will require the engagement of everyone in communities across the state.

Health Care Affordability

Pointing to the state’s high cost of living and a growing inequality of opportunity — in everything from wages to housing and health care — the Governor’s budget contains ambitious proposals to make the state a more affordable place to live. You likely saw media coverage of his proposals to make drugs more affordable. An important proposal that got less attention is the creation of an Office of Health Care Affordability.

This new office would be tasked with creating strategies and cost targets for health care providers, including enhancing transparency and ultimately generating savings for consumers. This is an idea with few details at this point, all to be developed working with stakeholders. While crafting a framework to make care more accessible and affordable for everyone is a goal we share, we’ll be deeply engaged as this is fleshed out — leading and educating along the way. We want to be sure lawmakers and the administration understand affordability and access must be carefully balanced and will demand equal involvement from all segments of the health care field — including providers, insurers, suppliers, drug companies, and others.

In addition to many other health care-related proposals (see CHA’s summary), the budget includes two key pieces of particularly good news that speak directly to hospitals’ own priorities: 

  • More than $80 million to make full-scope Medi-Cal coverage available to low-income undocumented people 65 and older
  • Strengthening and enforcing behavioral health support services and enforcing mental health parity laws, with a focus on timely access to treatment, network adequacy, benefit design, and plan policies

Wildfires

Through various climate change goals, working to transform PG&E, and investing in firefighting personnel, the budget places wildfire threats at the forefront of challenges facing the state. It also identifies the disruption of public safety power shutoff events as unacceptable — an area where we’ll continue to ensure that hospitals’ energy needs are prioritized, so you can provide seamless care to patients and the community during these times of increased need.  

The legislative session has just begun, the Governor’s budget has many hurdles to overcome, and there will be twists and turns along the way. Know that your CHA team and our Regional Association colleagues will be working closely with the administration and the Legislature to advance sound policies — with your mission of care as our guiding principle.

– Carmela