September 9, 2015

Immediate Release                                                        
September 9, 2015

Contact: Tim Valderrama (916) 651-4022

(Sacramento, CA)-- As part of the Special Session on health care called for by Governor Brown, Senator Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) introduced SB 2X 14 -- the only comprehensive piece of legislation that directly addresses the shortage of funding for California’s most vulnerable communities.  
“This legislation guarantees funding to improve quality and expand access to health care for those on Medi-Cal, as well as restores funding for our developmentally disabled community” said Senator Hernandez, “This bill clearly demonstrates California’s commitment to help those that need it most, including seniors, children, families, and individuals with special needs.”
The bill would implement a $2 per pack increase in the tobacco tax estimated to generate more than a billion dollars annually, as well as an equivalent increase on e-cigarette products.  The revenue would go towards increasing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates to help improve access to quality providers and improving network adequacy for Medi-Cal recipients. The remainder of the revenue would go towards existing tobacco-funded programs including law enforcement and smoking prevention efforts.
 The legislation would also extend the tax on Managed Care Organizations (MCO) to provide additional money for the health care system and an increase of $230 million annually for regional centers and providers of services to the developmentally disabled.  As a result of the matching dollars we get from the federal government under Medicaid , this proposal incredibly generates $1.3 billion annually with only a $300 million aggregate net impact to the non-Medi-Cal plans. That represents a net financial impact to non-Medi-Cal plans that is more than half the amount of any other proposal presented to date.        

“This bill is a win-win for Californians,” continued Senator Hernandez “not only will it generate much needed revenue for health care and developmental services, it also helps reduce smoking rates and deters teenagers from getting hooked on a deadly habit.”

SB 2X 14 would also would repeal the 7% reduction in hours of service for In-Home Support Service (IHSS) workers who help care for the elderly, disabled, and chronically ill patients in their own homes.
“A budget is a reflection of a society’s values.  The revenue generated by enacting this bill will help provide care for the most underserved and neediest communities in California,” added Senator Hernandez, “These are our grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends.  As a society we cannot continue to ignore their cries for help.”
The bill will begin making its way through the Legislature,  and will require a 2/3 vote threshold for passage.  Senator Hernandez is optimistic that the bill will move on to the Governor’s desk.
“At the end of the day, I am confident that my colleagues, including those on the Republican side of the aisle, will put the needs of California’s most vulnerable residents ahead of the addictive tobacco products that create some of the worst health problems overburdening our health care system.”