California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will participate in a community town hall on healthcare as a human right on Aug. 15, hosted by St. John’s Well Child and Family Center and SEIU. With the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare – but with insurance companies starting to deny services and pull out of exchanges—what is the fate of healthcare for millions of Californians?
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center joined MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) in filing a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court last July 12 alleging that state officials “are violating the civil rights of 13.5 million individuals enrolled in Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for low-income Californians,” a majority of whom are Latino.
Becerra is expected to address these issues and help strategize next steps.
“Medi-Cal patients face huge obstacles in obtaining timely access to care because the state pays providers so little for their services that many doctors decline to accept Medi-Cal patients. Those problems are further compounded by the state’s failure to adequately monitor and oversee the program,” according to a press release. Also joining the lawsuit are CREEC (Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center) and the law firm of Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow LLP, as well as SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).
“Navigating our health care system is confusing and expensive, but at the end of the day it’s much more than terms like ‘deductibles’ or ‘subsidies.’ It’s about taking care of our friends, families, and neighbors. St. John’s Well Child and Family Center provides health care services to Los Angeles’ most vulnerable communities, which is why we joined a lawsuit against the State of California that seeks to improve health care access for millions of Californians,” Jim Mangia, the openly gay President and CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, wrote in a piece for HuffPost.
“While the lawsuit’s plaintiffs are Latino (who make up the majority of Medi-Cal patients), all Californians who rely on Medi-Cal are being harmed. The lawsuit seeks to require California to increase the reimbursement rates to doctors, and thereby ensure Medi-Cal is meeting basic standards, such as having one provider for every 2,000 participants and ensuring that providers be no more than 10 miles from a beneficiary’s residence. It would also eliminate red tape that keeps patients from seeing doctors when they need to and make doctors less willing to serve Medi-Cal patients,” Mangia writes. “The bottom line is that access to health care is a fundamental human right, albeit one that relies on our state funding. In the face of such injustice, the State of California must treat the 13.5 million Medi-Cal patients as humans, not as a budget item that is scrimped and ignored. We will continue to fight for all of our patients and make sure that all Californians gain equal and timely access to health care.”
“Medi-Cal is a critical program to so many of California’s children and adults; it is no exaggeration to say that our current and future workforce – our very prosperity as a state – depends on Medi-Cal providing access to vital physician care,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “We must ensure that Medi-Cal is administered in a fair and non-discriminatory manner that serves the healthcare needs of Latinos and all others enrolled in the program.”
The Community Town Hall is Tuesday, Aug. 15, from 8:30a-10:00am at Los AngelesTrade Technical College, 400 W. Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Breakfast will be served