Health care workers to rally in Sacramento against Medi-Cal rate cuts


About 125 people boarded buses from Cedars Sinai Medical Center Tuesday for a seven hour journey up to the state's capitol. The group is set to rally and protest against the $1 billion in proposed spending and budget cuts to Medi-Cal.

The government health care program for the poor serves an estimated 7.5 million Californians and nearly half of them are children.

According to government figures, about 440 hospitals participate in Medi-Cal programs across the state.

The proposed cuts come at a time where California's budget has shown evident signs of growth. Despite that fact, the governor says this is not the time to start spending.

The rally was organized by We Care for California which formed this year to expand access to health care for all Californians and oppose further rate cuts to Medi-Cal.

The group includes health care providers, organizers representing physicians and hospitals as well as members from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California.

Many of those who gathered at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Tuesday were hospital employees who also brought along their families. If these cuts do go into place, employees fear smaller hospitals that serve many Medi-Cal patients will be so stressed or impaired that the slack may then have to be picked up by larger hospitals.

The rally is also protesting two bills that would cut Medi-Cal rates to nursing homes located in hospitals and a swath of providers.

Cedars-Sinai employees feels like these cuts would significantly impair the quality of service as well as limit access to Medi-Cal patients.

"One out of five Californians are currently on Medicare so that's enough to get me on the bus," said Jason Fuentes, a Cedars-Sinai employee. "I haven't been to sleep yet, got off of work tonight, went home and just stayed up because I'm ready to go."

The bus is destined to arrive in Sacramento around noon so they can participate in what organizers are saying will be the largest health care rally the state has ever seen.

Organizers are estimating about 100 bus loads of people will converge on the capitol Tuesday.

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