Though we have some of the best medical care in the world, accessing that care can be problematic for millions of Californians. As a member of the Assembly Health Committee, creating access to quality affordable healthcare is one of my biggest concerns.
The rising cost of care, out-of-date drug formularies, new treatments that initially may not be covered by health plans or approved by the Department of Health Care Services, often stand as impediments to needed medical treatment. Each year I have championed the cause of improving access to innovative treatments for all our citizens which includes streamlining the appeals processes for patients, increasing the doctor’s authority in getting the best treatment for their patients upfront and advocating for Medi-Cal coverage of new treatments sooner rather than forcing patients to undergo fail-first regimens.
Access to care is impeded due to the lack of doctors or dentists who accept Medi-Cal or Denti-Cal. As more people have moved onto Medi-Cal managed care plans, a two-tier system of healthcare has been created. In 2011, when California was wallowing in a sea of red ink, our already low Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates were cut up to 10 percent. These cuts devastated many care providers, including some right here in this region. Because of this, many doctors began to limit the number of Medi- Cal patients they would treat. Patients who can afford private healthcare plans can access doctors with the resources to obtain a higher tier of treatment, while Medi-Cal patients often aren’t able to access the same resources or innovations. In fact, some of our citizens must travel over 50 miles just to find a single Denti-Cal dentist. This is wrong and I have joined many of my colleagues in standing up for increased Medi-Cal reimbursements.
I will continue to introduce and support legislation to modernize California’s healthcare system to improve access and save taxpayer dollars. In fact, I am happy to report that legislation I co-authored to increase access to life saving clinical trials for underserved communities was just signed by the Governor. This problem can be solved, but only if we work together to give healthcare the priority status it deserves.