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Yes on 52: Protecting a Successful Health Care Partnership

by C. Duane Dauner, published

In an election year marked by division and conflict, from the presidential to the local level, it’s all the more remarkable that California has one statewide ballot measure that enjoys support from a broad and diverse list of labor, business, and health care groups, as well as political leaders from both major parties.  In fact, the measure has no organized opposition.

There are good reasons that Proposition 52—the Medi-Cal Funding and Accountability Act—has such strong support. It would continue a successful partnership between California and local hospitals that ensures access to health care for approximately 13.5 million Californians, or 1 in 3 of the state’s residents.

Proposition 52 ensures healthcare for approximately 13.5 million Californians by continuing a program that, since its beginning in 2009, has allowed the state to receive $3 billion per year in federal funds. This means approximately $18 billion in federal funds since the agreement on 2009, through a matching formula to pay for health care services provided to patients who are enrolled in Medi-Cal. Without this program, that funding would have simply been left unclaimed in Washington D.C.

California hospitals voluntarily agreed to assess themselves a fee, beginning in 2009, when they learned that the state was unable to put up the money necessary to secure the federal matching funds. Securing those funds has benefited more than just the nearly 7 million children, 1.6 million seniors, and 4.5 million working families who look to Medi-Cal to meet their health care needs. It has also benefited California taxpayers who, without this program, would be faced with paying more to support Medi-Cal services. The agreement has also protected those with private health insurance, who would otherwise face the prospect of higher premiums to subsidize Medi-Cal.

The current law that keeps the federal funding in place is scheduled to expire in 2017.  Voting yes on Proposition 52 removes the expiration date, along with the political uncertainty of having to renew the program every few years with the Legislature.  Just as important, Yes on Proposition 52 ensures that the funds are used for Medi-Cal as intended, by prohibiting state lawmakers from spending these dollars for other purposes.

Proposition 52 is supported by nearly 1,000 organizations and leaders across the state. This includes non-traditional allies such as the California Labor Federation and the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Republican Party and the California Democratic Party, and the California Business Roundtable and the California Teachers Association.

As the Sacramento Bee recently editorialized, “Proposition 52 is a rare initiative for which there should be little debate or dissent…It doesn’t generate fierce debate.  But Proposition 52 does make fiscal sense, and it is worthy of voters’ support.”

The Bakersfield Californian noted that Proposition 52 “ensures that the money will be spent on healthcare, rather than being ripped off by other state agencies.”

And the Los Angeles Times editorialized that Proposition 52 “would preserve an important revenue source for a vital safety-net program that’s already woefully underfunded.  It deserves a yes vote.”

It adds up to unusual consensus. Proposition 52 will help ensure access to health care for our state’s most vulnerable residents. It protects an agreement to attract critical federal dollars, and it makes sure those dollars are spent on health care, not diverted by the Legislature to spend elsewhere.  This is a good idea that deserves voter support in November.


Promotions for this article is paid for by Yes on Proposition 52, a coalition of California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems and non-profit health care organizations with major funding by California Health Foundation and Trust and Dignity Health.

Photo Credit: Ken Wolter /

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