By Vivian Nguyen
On June 4, 2013, over 8,000 healthcare workers and community supporters gathered on the steps of the State Capitol for the largest healthcare rally in California history.
The event was hosted by We Care for California, a coalition of physicians, dentists and health care workers who are working to protest Governor Brown’s reduction of Medi-Cal provider rates by 10% or roughly $1 billion per year. Among those present were doctors, nurses and hospital administrators from all corners of the state, many of whom boarded buses early that morning in order to make their voices heard.
The purpose of the rally was to demonstrate support for two bills –Senate Bill (SB) 640 and Assembly Bill (AB) 900—that were designed to reverse the 10 percent Medi-Cal provider cuts. Although SB 640 became stranded on the Senate Appropriations suspense file and AB 900 was amended to only reverse provider cuts for skilled nursing facilities, supporters continue to push for rescinding Medi-Cal cuts through negotiations in “trailer bills” that will accompany the budget bill for floor votes this Friday.
Still, hundreds of advocacy and professional organizations were present at the rally last week, including the California Primary Care Association, Services Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, and Kaiser Permanente. One organization that brought in more than one hundred volunteers from all over the state was Planned Parenthood.
According to Susannah McDevitt, Public Affairs Director for Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific, these cuts would be extremely detrimental to Planned Parenthood branches all over the state. “Medi-Cal cuts really affect reproductive healthcare access for our clients. The cuts make it impossible for Planned Parenthood to cover our cost of providing health services, and consequently harder to see the patients who need them,” McDevitt said. “Our doors are opened for everyone and these cuts would hurt those who don’t have anywhere else to go.”
“Given the timing of the Affordable Care Act, it will make it difficult to expand our services if Medi-Cal is being cut,” McDevitt said. “We’re hoping that our legislators take leadership on this issue because it will be a crisis if the cuts go forward.”
More photos from the event:
Vivian Nguyen is a Community Affairs Intern at Community Clinic Consortium of Contra Costa & Solano Counties. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.