In November 2016, voters passed Proposition 56 to support access to health care for low-income Californians covered by the Medi-Cal program. This is known as the California Healthcare Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act. Prop. 56 raised the tax rate on cigarettes and other tobacco products to fund health care programs, including but not limited to, physician and dental services, developmental and trauma screenings, and home health care.
The targeted Proposition 56 investments are meant to improve access to and quality of care.
One of the key financing mechanisms for Proposition 56 has been supplemental payments tied to specific CPT codes including outpatient evaluation & management (E/M) codes that benefit pediatric subspecialists. The supplemental payments bring the rates closer to parity with Medicare and have provided critical funding to support the pediatric subspecialty network and our members’ ability to recruit and retain physicians.
During uncertain budgetary times, there have been attempts to redirect Proposition 56 funding, therefore CSCC’s advocacy on its value has been extremely important.
Another important program that Proposition 56 has enabled is the CalHealthCares Loan Repayment Program, which allocated $340 million to fund educational debt relief to eligible physicians and dentists. Physicians can apply for up to $300,000 in loan repayment in exchange for a five-year service obligation to treat, at minimum, a 30 percent Medi-Cal patient caseload, as well as other specified criteria.
CSCC was instrumental in advocating to ensure pediatric subspecialists were eligible for this program.