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Special to the Sacramento Bee: Jodi Hicks

May 12, 2021    

Contact: Jennifer Wonnacott

[email protected]

Sacramento, CA – In advance of Governor Newsom’s revised budget proposal this week, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) President and CEO, Jodi Hicks penned a special to the Sacramento Bee, highlighting the need for investment in public health.

While the state continues to recover from the pandemic and will see more than a $75 billion budget surplus, in addition to federal funds, it’s more important than ever that ongoing investments be made into community driven health care systems that keep our most vulnerable communities healthy.

Hicks says, “As we move forward, policymakers must fund long-term, equity-centered solutions being advanced by our public health care system at the same level corporate entities are seeing for putting forward temporary solutions.”

One example of this is equal funding for telehealth visits in the state’s Medi-Cal system. Under current Executive Order, audio and visual telehealth visits are covered at the same rate, ensuring that those without internet access or the capability to video conference their health care professionals still get equal access to care. Unfortunately, when the Executive Order expires, these visits will not be reimbursed equally, causing a divide in the kind of care that those without video access receive.

“COVID has emphasized the need to build upon the current public health care system in a way that addresses the inequities within our institutions, such as investing in the methods community health centers have used to reach patients where they are. This includes supporting technological advancements that expand health care delivery, such as audio and video telehealth capabilities and broadband coverage, and investing in community education and outreach programs that provide critical linkages to care in California’s most hard-to-reach communities,” Hicks added in the Sacramento Bee.

PPAC urges Governor Newsom and the legislature to continue funding audio telehealth visits for Medi-Cal patients just as the state funds video visits. Recent studies show that people are more likely to seek out health care when it can meet them where they are, and if we have learned anything this last year, it’s that we need to make health care more accessible for our most vulnerable, not less.