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February 2018 President's Message
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4/19/2018 at 9:33:47 PM GMT
Posts: 7
February 2018 President's Message

EMPAC Endorses Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor

By Aimee Moulin, MD, FACEP

On every shift, in every emergency department (ED) up and down the state, we treat patients who are being failed by our current healthcare system. A woman with kidney stones who can't get in to see a specialist and keeps coming back to the ED in excruciating pain even though she has Medi-Cal. A child with a severely broken arm who, after an initial visit to the ED, can't get in to see an orthopedist despite being on Medi-Cal, and whose parents have no choice but to bring her back to the ED for follow-up care. A man struggling with mental illness who cycles in and out of crisis because he has difficulty accessing regular psychiatric care.

 

This is not an aberration or rare occurrence. Sadly, this is the face of a Medi-Cal system that is failing its enrollees. One in three Californians is now insured through Medi-Cal. These patients were promised healthcare. They got insurance, but they didn't get real access to care.

Our members treated nearly 15 million patients last year - a number that has grown annually. A number which got bigger after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because the newly insured had no other access to treatment for very serious medical problems other than the ED. Some of these serious medical conditions could have been prevented if patients had real options for regular medical care.

Through our legislative advocacy, we have continually argued that more must be done to ensure that Californians have universal access to healthcare. While there are many avenues to reach universal healthcare, we do not support the single payer legislation before the State Assembly, SB 562. There are no details in SB 562 and we see every day what happens when you provide insurance to people without any details about how they will actually be provided care and by whom. Single payer just means the government pays the healthcare bill. It doesn't say anything about what kind of healthcare people will receive. Californians need healthcare, not health insurance. The State of California is the single payer for Medi-Cal today and, given what we see every shift in the ED, the system we have today isn’t working.

We must start by fixing what we have. That will be no small feat for the next Governor of California.

In the December issue of Lifeline, staff outlined the 2018 gubernatorial election and the process of California ACEP’s PAC, the Emergency Medical Political Action Committee (EMPAC). Chapter leaders met with numerous candidates for governor and shared stories of the challenges facing our patients and ways we’d like to see the system reformed.

Based on these interviews, EMPAC is pleased to endorse Antonio Villaraigosa because we need a Governor who is committed to delivering the promise of the ACA: universal access to care.

Antonio Villaraigosa is committed to ensuring that being insured by Medi-Cal means having access to specialists and primary care doctors during the hours you need them. If California can deliver a first-world healthcare system to its Medi-Cal enrollees, then it has the credibility to takeover providing healthcare of all Californians. Until then, it only promises to make things worse.

Antonio Villaraigosa is someone who embraces the challenge of delivering on Medi-Cal’s promise to millions of Californians. We know it won't be easy, if it was, it would already be done. It will take significant vision, tenacity, and a commitment to invest the State's resources into this important human infrastructure need. EMPAC and the Chapter’s leadership believe that Antonio Villaraigosa is the right person to address California’s healthcare challenges.



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