CALIFORNIA CAREGIVERS UNION, CORP
 

Proposed Amendment to Prop 215, titled Medi-Cal Relief Act -MRA

California, 1996, 56% yes vote on Prop 215 to added 11362.5 to the Health and Safety Code, legalizing medical marijuana for seriously ill patients, and patients with recommendation would be exempted from prosecution in this state. SB 420 was passed in 2003 to help patients and their caregivers have protection from arrest with a voluntary id card program, giving statewide access to medical cannabis status to law enforcement 24/7.

The state has taken great steps to ensure more progress and protection for the sick and ill patients who use cannabis and with these advancements comes more responsibility. Recently The California Department of Health and Human Services ( State of California Medi-cal Health Insurance Program) has begun reimbursing patients for their medicine statewide. This plan was to make medicine available to those who can not afford to pay out-of -pocket expenses. This was great for the thousands of under- insured patients in this state and is definitely needed to make available the needed services for those who can’t afford medicine.

Like all Public Aid Services, funded by the state tax payers, benefit the state as a whole and its our responsibility to protect its future for the welfare of generations to come. For the protection of the state and its citizens we propose MRA as a statewide mandatory Law. MRA would help preserve a needed service available to 6.5 million low-income California residents. This year an estimated "15 Billion dollar budget cut" is being proposed by Gov. office to manage the states crisis. Mandatory Cuts by 10% will force physicians and health care providers to deny services and lead in an increase in emergency room visits, costing tax payers more.

1.) The proposed Law MRA would make available in each local jurisdiction for Medi-cal recipients or qualified patient the property seized by Local Law Enforcement (the State Of California) under health code 11362.5 and any cannabis related offense where the person has been found unlawfully possessing the substance known as cannabis, or hashish, or any cannabis possessed by the state recommended to be destroyed or any unclaimed cannabis in the state‘s possession.

a.) Purpose- the intent of this law MRA is to make available valued costly resources the state currently destroys to the ill patients in each jurisdiction it was seized.

b.) The effects of this law MRA if passed by the voters would save millions of dollars of tax payers money by requiring at LEAST one NON-PROFIT Collective, a medical preferred dispensary, to provide service’s at a lower rate then others in the area, and given a location easily located within the reasonable distance of the majority population.

c.) MRA would Require Procedures for Local Law Enforcements to release cannabis or hashish to the designated facility at no charge or court order.

d.) MRA would allow the county health services department to review necessary documents that are filed with the state, accordance to health care procedures with medical services.

e.) MRA would require medi-cal patients to have a LIMIT to medicine reimbursements that are not the preferred medi-cal facility.

f.) MRA should be considered a necessity to protect the welfare of the State of California’s public medi-cal system, and provide use to valuable asset’s the state destroys at tax payers expense.

2.) MRA builds an alliance with Local Law Enforcement and the public.

3.)MRA curve’s the for profit sale of cannabis to the state of California’s sick & ill patients.

4.) MRA passage would provide relief and requirements for a mandatory low cost facility in each county, for the state’s seized cannabis supply to benefit the public medi-cal program.

 

 

Continued proposal to MRA. SUMMARY

The effects of such a law being passed are positive and also needed.

The current price for a small supply of cannabis is around 50 dollars PLUS TAX per 8th. (3.5grams) OR MORE DEPENDING ON THE CITY YOU LIVE IN.

What makes these prices so universal? How is a legal industry still not have the price worked out to the degree they have moved from the illegal drug prices to a medical, compassionate price.

The MRA will help every county receive ONE mandatory operating club, to provide such service, and receive the appointed allowance of the county’s seized cannabis supply.

Also the bill does not require the law enforcement to donate the grow equipment, or any other real property acquired which currently goes back to the public auctioned off at the state capital.

The bill is a stepping stone for the alliance with local law enforcement, and the community it serves, medical, or religious cannabis community specifically clearly saying “we are not out to steal your herb, we benefit none, it goes to the sick and ill people of the county”

The bill would require a limit to how much medi-cal will pay for medicine in a 30 day period.

The bill would allow the Non-Profit to ACT IN THE FULL CAPASITY AS A CAREGIVER &

DELIVER TO ALL PATIENTS WITH OR WITHOUT STATE ID CARDS.*

 

E-MAIL YOUR VOTE, IN SUPPORT OR AGAINST THIS PROPOSED BILL TO Author: Rev. ShaShon Jenkins, @ jenkins21508@aol.com. So far we have received an overwhelming support of such bill, and this proposed bill is being reviewed by MPP, and other organizations to help it gain momentum. We have also received promising assurance from our sources close to our Ca Attorney General that this will receive "adequate" consideration and review. So lets get it to the senate.

DPA Wins Fight on Medical Marijuana Expenses in California

Published Friday, September 29, 2006

DPA's Office of Legal Affairs achieved a victory for California patients this week after a protracted legal battle. As a result of a court decision on September 25, indigent medical marijuana patients in California who receive public assistance benefits through the Department of Health Services may qualify for reimbursement of the cost of their medicine.

The case centered around Sylvia Price, who uses medical marijuana to alleviate severe, constant pain associated with lupus, a seizure disorder, reflux sympathetic dystrophy, and osteoporosis.  Ms. Price sought and received reimbursements for the cost of her medical marijuana under Lake County's public assistance program, which took into account Ms. Price's out-of-pocket expenditures for medical marijuana when determining what level of assistance she should receive. 

Then, three years ago, Lake County suddenly stopped reimbursing Ms. Price, claiming that federal law prohibited it from doing so.  DPA took on her case, and after three administrative hearings and one appeal, the administrative court this week finally resolved the issue.

The decision, written on behalf of the California Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), made clear that DHS policy is to permit reimbursement of medical marijuana claims for patients who receive public assistance  from that agency. DHS's administrative court also made clear that federal marijuana laws do not prevent the state agency from honoring California's medical marijuana law and enforcing department policy.

The decision held, in relevant part: "The disparity between federal law treating marijuana as a controlled and illegal substance and California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act has been decided and it is now established that DHS regards medical marijuana used consistent with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act as a bona fide medical expense."

This means that medical marijuana patients receiving public assistance benefits through DHS may qualify for reimbursement of reasonable, documented expenses incurred in obtaining their physician-recommended marijuana.

As for Ms. Price, she in all likelihood will be retroactively reimbursed for several thousand dollars of past out-of-pocket costs in purchasing medical marijuana.

$1 billion in Medi-Cal payments may vanish

Published: Friday, January 11, 2008 at 3:33 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 9:00 p.m.

Residents who rely on human services programs and medical subsidies -- roughly one in 10 people in Sonoma County -- could feel the sting of the proposed state budget cuts, Sonoma County officials said.

The budget unveiled Thursday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls for cuts in human services that include medical, mental health, public health and drug-abuse prevention programs.

Medi-Cal payments alone could be slashed by $1 billion plus under the proposal. That has the potential of affecting 49,959 low-income people in Sonoma County who rely on the program for health care, officials said.

Medi-Cal provides health insurance and long-term care coverage to 6.5 million recipients in California. The governor's budget would cut provider payments by 10 percent and would slash adult dental services, two areas targeted for significant cuts.

County officials caution it is too early to say exactly how the cuts will play out.

"There's a lot we don't know about the budget at this point since it's so fresh," said Marla Stuart, Human Services Department director of planning, research and evaluation. "It's hard for us to predict the actual impact on our residents."

County Administrator Bob Deis expects the Legislature to ease the effects of the proposals, probably by rejecting some and possibly by raising fees or taxes.

The proposed cuts would affect foster care payments, cash aid to non-working adults and payments for in-home supportive services.

There are 529 children in Sonoma County in foster care. There are more than 4,400 low-income seniors and disabled persons who maintain independent living with help from in-home support services. The assistance includes help with bathing, dressing, cooking and cleaning.

And 1,454 unemployed adults receive cash assistance and food stamps. The majority are engaged in some form of work.

Human Services officials said there appears to be a disproportionate effect on vulnerable residents. They said that over the past four years, social service programs have grown by less than 9 percent compared with growth rates of 45 percent to 74 percent for other state programs.

Additionally, they said social service programs have not received cost-of-living increases in seven years.

"As always, when the state faces a fiscal crisis such as this, we are concerned about the welfare of our most vulnerable families," Jo Weber, director of the county Human Services Department, said in a statement. "As a department, we will closely monitor the budget process and will continue to actively support our county families who are experiencing financial hardship or family distress."

Staff Writer Bleys W. Rose contributed to this story.

You can reach Staff Writer

Clark Mason at 521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com.

State health plan may end enrollment

Facing record enrollment, deficit, Healthy Families may start waiting list

Published: Monday, November 17, 2008 at 4:22 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 17, 2008 at 4:22 a.m.

As California sheds jobs at an alarming rate, increasing the ranks of the uninsured, the state-run Healthy Families program for children is preparing to close enrollment for the first time in its 10-year history.

New enrollment in the program -- which provides medical, dental and vision care to more than 900,000 children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but not enough to buy insurance -- has averaged more than 27,000 a month during the past year.

That is an all-time high, and has already created a $17.2 million deficit in the program.

Lesley Cummings, executive director of the state's Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers Healthy Families, has told the board the only way to manage costs is to limit enrollment.

Failure to do, she said, could ultimately force the state to stop coverage for children who are already in the program.

Cummings' recommendation is expected to be discussed at a board meeting this week. Without an infusion of new money -- unlikely as California grapples with an $11.2-billion deficit -- the board is expected to vote Dec. 17 on freezing enrollment the next day and establishing a waiting list.

Advocates for children say that with unemployment in California at 7.7 percent, the highest in a dozen years, 162,000 eligible children would be denied coverage between December and June.

They said families without coverage will have to seek care at free county health clinics, where available, and that many will turn to hospital emergency rooms as a last resort.

"More than ever, California families are relying on these essential services that provide affordable, comprehensive health coverage for their children," Wilma Chan, a vice president for Children Now, said in a statement.

Even before the recent acceleration of job losses, health care advocates predicted that the budget the governor signed in September would make it impossible for more than 250,000 children to obtain health coverage during the next four years -- adding to the ranks of 6.5 million Californians who are already uninsured.

While it was not widely publicized, Cummings said the budget also called for closing enrollment in Healthy Families after Dec. 18.

"The budget discussions were so protracted and complex that I don't think it was the first thought in most minds at the time," Cummings said.

The only development that could head off freezing enrollment, she said, is "more dollars to make up the shortfall."

"That has happened a few times in the past," she said. "But this is just such a mind-boggling, horrendous budget year, and there's lots of people needing lots of money in lots of programs," Cummings said.

Democratic Sen. Darrell Steinberg, who takes over as Senate president pro tem on Dec. 1, said that despite the state budget crisis, children's health care should be a top priority.

Steinberg said he has been in discussions with officials who administer the cash-flush First 5 programs in the state and with foundations "about stepping up."

He noted that President-elect Barack Obama has also signaled he wants to increase spending for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the federal program that provides $2 for every $1 that California spends on Healthy Families.

But the federal government is also strapped for cash. Previous SCHIP expansions were vetoed by President George W. Bush, who argued the program should stick to the working poor.

With the Republican president and Democratic-controlled Congress at an impasse, the funding allocated this year for the program is scheduled to run out in March.

State budget would cut health care for poorest

Community clinics that aid Medi-Cal patients say solvency at stake, plead with doctors for support

CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat
Debra Araujo, dental director of West County Health Centers, smooths down a denture Wednesday at the Russian River Health Center in Guerneville. More than 1,400 of the center's dental patients could be affected by proposed state budget cuts.
Published: Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 3:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 5:56 p.m.

Michael Murphy, a part-time real estate agent and college instructor, has a frank and dismal view of what will happen if the Russian River Dental Clinic no longer accepts Medi-Cal.

"My teeth would rot in my skull," said Murphy, a Camp Meeker resident whose jobs don't offer medical benefits.

Murphy sought relief from a toothache Wednesday at the dental clinic, where he received a deep cleaning and an appointment to get a tooth filled.

Such care is threatened by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts to various health care services covered by Medi-Cal, the state's insurance program for low-income residents, to help close a $15.2 billion budget deficit.

The possible cuts include $73.8 million that would eliminate adult dental benefits. For the Russian River Dental Clinic, the loss is expected to be $313,000, well over 40 percent of its $724,310 operating budget. More than 1,400 patients receiving dental care there would be affected.

The West County Health Centers, the agency that operates the Russian River Dental Clinic, also stands to lose $152,000 in general Medi-Cal funding from its $577,000 mental health program, said executive director Mary Szecsey, noting that the proposed cuts could have far-reaching implications.

"Some of the funding for the threatened services affects the solvency of the entire agency," Szecsey said.

The West County Health Centers is part of the Redwood Community Health Coalition, a network of nonprofit clinics in Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Yolo counties.

The coalition's 11 health care sites in Sonoma County stand to lose approximately $6 million as a result of the possible cuts, according to Pedro Toledo, a coalition spokesman.

Medi-Cal, California's version of the federal Medicaid program, covers 6.7 million people, mostly families with incomes up to 100 percent of the poverty level, which amounts to $17,170 for a family of three.

State officials said Schwarz- enegger does not take these proposed cuts lightly, but because health care services represent such a large portion of general fund expenditures, cuts are unavoidable.

"When you have that large of a deficit, which is well over 10 percent of the general fund, the second-largest expenditure (next to education) cannot be exempt from reductions. . . . We have to contribute to solving the state's budget problems," said Stan Rosenstein, chief deputy director of the California Department of Health Care Services.

The governor's latest proposed cuts to Medi-Cal amount to a savings of $1.1 billion and would include:

A $614 million savings through a 10 percent reduction in payments for health care providers in fee-for-service and managed care plans, rates for some long-term care facilities, non-contract hospital rates and reduced funding for 22 public hospitals.

An $85.4 million savings by eliminating optional benefits, including chiropractic care, acupuncture, audiology, optometry, opticians and optical labs, podiatry, speech therapy and psychology, programs not required under Medicaid rules.

A $203.7 million savings through administrative cuts and changes, including reinstating quarterly status reports of family income.

A $31.2 million savings by reducing the allowable income level for two-parent households to 61 percent of the federal poverty level and requiring primary earners to work no more than 100 hours a month, regardless of income.

A $42 million savings by limiting the eligibility period for most emergency services for undocumented immigrants.

An $86 million savings by cutting nonemergency services, other than prenatal, nursing facility and breast cancer treatment, for new immigrants.

Local health care professionals this week held a forum at the Sonoma County Indian Health Project in west Santa Rosa. They warned of the impacts such cuts would have on the stability of community clinics.

Naomi Fuchs, chief executive officer of Southwest Community Health Center in Santa Rosa, said the proposed requirement for quarterly status reporting could result in a significant number of Medi-Cal patients losing their eligibility. Medi-Cal reimbursements are crucial to community clinics because they help pay for the cost of providing care to uninsured patients.

"We have, at best, a half-percent operating margin in a good year," Fuchs said.

Dr. Kelly Pfeifer, one of two medical directors for the Redwood Community Health Coalition, said cutting primary care at clinics will result in more emergency room visits.

"None of the optional programs listed in the governor's budget -- such as adult dental, mental health, optometry -- are truly optional," she said. "If you want to save dental costs, cap each patient an annual amount. All of us with dental coverage live with this. But don't prevent access to emergency and preventative dental care."

Because most of Sonoma County's community clinics are designated Federally Qualified Health Centers, they are exempt from the proposed 10 percent reduction in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates.

But Pfeifer and other health care professionals said reductions in reimbursement rates would make it even more difficult for patients to access specialty care among private practice doctors, many of whom refuse to take Medi-Cal patients.

"Now, with the 10 percent cut, more specialist are saying, 'No, we're not taking any more,' " Pfeifer said.

Rosenstein agreed that health clinics could be indirectly affected by the reimbursement rate cut.

"We are asking physicians to stay with the program," Rosenstein said. "We would ask them to help out with the state's budget problem by taking their share of Medi-Cal patients."

At the Russian River Dental Clinic, Dr. Debra Araujo, the dentist who performed Murphy's deep cleaning, said many residents would suffer from the proposed cuts.

"We're providing a service that these people wouldn't otherwise get," she said.

 

 

Similar bills surrounding law enforcement and cannabis-

The state's other fiscal crisis -- one that puts lives at risk

By MICHAEL J. COHILL

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 3:32 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 3:32 a.m.

Throughout California, community hospitals provide vital health care services and emergency care to millions of people around the clock. Babies are born there and countless lives are saved every single day. But our hospitals -- and the lives of every man, woman and child -- are at stake and increasingly at risk of losing access to services.

Recent budget cuts to the state's Medi-Cal program will put patients and our hospitals at even greater risk of diminished access to services.

In February of this year, the governor signed into law a 10-percent budget cut to the Medi-Cal program, which serves our state's most vulnerable patients -- the uninsured, underinsured and working poor, disabled and seniors. These cuts, which will take effect July 1, will likely result in more hospital closures or reductions in critical emergency and trauma-care services on which all Californians depend. When health care services are lost, it impacts the entire community.

The new Medi-Cal cuts will further erode an already underfunded program. Medi-Cal already ranks dead last in the nation in payments to health care providers. In fact, in 2007 Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa's 2007 shortfall totaled more than $3 million from inadequate payments for care provided to Medi-Cal patients.

In this latest round of cuts, Sutter Medical Center faces an additional potential loss of almost $2.5 million.

Adding insult to injury, the budget also calls for payment delays to doctors and hospitals in June and August. For some hospitals, such delays will mean laying off health care workers, suspending services and perhaps closing altogether. Many Californians may have to drive an hour or more to obtain essential health care services.

A growing number of physicians are already canceling their Medi-Cal contracts due to the woefully poor reimbursement rates. That means there are fewer physicians treating Medi-Cal patients and less access to care for patients.

It's hard to blame physicians, since current payments are so low. But patients who are unable to receive care from their doctors often turn to hospital emergency rooms -- the most expensive setting for providing health care.

With a $16 billion budget deficit, California is undoubtedly in a fiscal crisis. But so is California's health care system. During the past decade, more than 70 California hospitals and emergency rooms have closed. Nearly 50 percent of hospitals are operating in the red, and several are either near or already in bankruptcy proceedings. The Medi-Cal budget cuts are bound to cause more hospitals to curtail essential services, and more emergency rooms and hospitals to close.

At Sutter Medical Center, we recognize that the enormity of the state's fiscal problems will require budget cuts to all state programs, including those affecting hospitals. But it is simply not feasible to cut our way out of a $16 billion deficit. A more balanced approach is needed to solve this fiscal emergency.

The state's current health care crisis could get much worse. Critical health care services must not be allowed to further erode or be lost altogether. Lives will be at risk if the cuts to Medi-Cal are not reversed.

Michael J. Cohill is chief executive officer of Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa.

 

Budget stalls health

overhaul Perata says no action on universal care until program cuts are identified

Published: Friday, December 14, 2007 at 3:39 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 13, 2007 at 9:00 p.m.

SACRAMENTO -- The push for universal health care in California is facing fresh troubles because of the state's mounting fiscal problems.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, said Thursday he will not ask fellow senators to vote on any health deal until he knows the extent of what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to cut out of the budget.

The state is facing a budget gap of at least $10 billion and possibly as much as $14 billion, as revenues fall because of the housing slump.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez had hoped to reach a deal Thursday with the governor on a $14 billion health overhaul expansion but emerged empty-handed from a closed-door meeting. Even if the two sides can agree on how to expand health coverage, and the Legislature gives its assent, the deal still would need voter approval.

Perata said Thursday that seemed unlikely, given the enormity of the budget problem and the likelihood that the state would be cutting health programs for the poor.

"It's hard to explain to people how you can be talking about expanding a health care program at the same time you're making deep cuts in the present health care program," he said, after walking out early from the meeting with the governor.

Schwarzenegger says adopting his plan would actually help the state's finances by bringing in new revenue, including $4 billion from the federal government. Much of that would help shore up the state-federal Medi-Cal program for the poor, which pays doctors and hospitals among the lowest rates in the nation.

"The governor's proposal is revenue-neutral and is not dependent on new general fund dollars," said Sabrina Lockhart, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger. "This is the exact kind of reform that will prevent future governors from making the kind of decisions that Governor Schwarzenegger is being forced to make."

But others, including health care analysts and Republicans opposed to the governor's ideas, say that in expanding public health programs to serve more people, the state will be taking on new financial burdens that will grow faster than their funding sources because of medical inflation.

Democrats are already talking about raising taxes just to paper over the enormous budget shortfall the state faces next year.

State tax revenues have fallen precipitously because of the subprime housing mess and the resulting credit crunch on Wall Street.

In August, Schwarzenegger's office projected the state would end its current budget year with a $4.1 billion reserve. Last month, the state's nonpartisan legislative analyst said that was no longer true.

Instead, she said, the state would end the year in the red and was on pace to rack up a staggering $10 billion deficit over the next 18 months.

Schwarzenegger has privately told lawmakers and interest groups this week that the gap could be even bigger -- more than $14 billion.

Neither the governor's office nor his finance team, however, would confirm that they've warned privately of a $14 billion shortfall.

H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Schwarzenegger's finance department, said only that the governor on Thursday finished major decisions on the budget proposal he'll release next month and that to close the gap, cuts to all state agencies and programs are possible.


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