There are reasons to dislike Proposition 52. It’s complicated, and it amends the California constitution, which already is one of the longest collections of laws in the world, standing at 110 pages. Nevertheless, on balance, we believe it’s better for voters to support this one than to reject it.
Here’s what’s involved. In order for California to receive federal Medicaid funds, which are distributed through the Medi-Cal program, the state needs to provide matching funds. To do that, the state set up a program seven years ago that charges all California hospitals a fee to raise money for those matching funds. As a result, hospitals receive more than $3 billion a year in federal funds to provide Medi-Cal services to more than 13 million Californians. It’s worked well. But the state also is guilty of using funds from the hospital fee program for general fund expenditures. Proposition 52 would extend the hospital fee program indefinitely and would require voter approval to divert the money for other purposes. As a result, the proposition is supported by a broad coalition of interests ranging from the California Teachers Association and California Professional Firefighters to the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Business Roundtable. Even the chief opponent, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers, has pulled back and is now neutral on this measure. We encourage voters to give it a thumbs up.