The Senate Committee on Health last week passed a bill to establish a medical home system in California. AB 361, by Assembly member Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles,) already won approval in the Assembly and appears headed for a Senate floor vote when the full Legislature reconvenes in August.
"This bill brings federal resources to California to address frequent users in the Medi-Cal system because of chronic medical conditions," according to Assembly member Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), who introduced the bill last week for Mitchell. "[Those people] are disproportionately expensive, with more trips to the emergency room, so this is a way to contain those costs."
In fact, Cooley said, setting up the medical home program has no cost to the state, since 90% of it is federally funded under the Affordable Care Act, and the remaining 10% tab will be picked up by the California Endowment.
"AB 361 is about using Medi-Cal resources more wisely," said Sharon Rapport of Corporation for Supportive Housing. "Currently, Medi-Cal fails to address the very complex needs of our most expensive and most vulnerable Californians. By dramatically improving health outcomes for this population, AB 361 would dramatically decrease the cost of treating this population."
Rapport said studies have shown a reduction of as much 69% in inpatient stays funded by Medi-Cal when the medical home model was used.
"And we can achieve these results without any cost to the state" for the first two years, Rapport said. "After the first two years, the bill relies on local funding to continue the program," she said. "This bill makes good policy sense and good fiscal sense."
"It's a 9-to-1 match, and the California Endowment has picked up the other 10%," said Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel).
Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) said he would support the bill, except for worry about what happens after two years.
"If the author would consider adding tieback language," Anderson said, "you could count on my support."
The bill passed committee on a 7-2 vote.