Date: May 14, 2021
Contact: Jennifer Wonnacott, [email protected]
SACRAMENTO — Statement from Jodi Hicks, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, on Governor Newsom’s 2021-22 Revised Budget which makes critical investments but falls short on investing in telehealth:
“Planned Parenthood lauds Governor Newsom for recognizing the need and opportunity to address health equity with bold and critical health care investments included in his May Revise. Eliminating suspensions for Prop. 56 supplemental payments, funding in Medi-Cal for community health workers, increased investments for behavioral health, coverage for undocumented adults over 60, and investments for pregnant people by extending postpartum coverage and making doulas a covered benefit are all welcome and necessary parts of a multifaceted approach to addressing health equity.
“However, this budget inexplicably falls short - and in fact reduces - access to audio visits in telehealth services. It falls short in continuing to fully cover those services once the pandemic orders are lifted, even though we know access to telehealth is effectively reducing disparities.
“This budget reduces access to audio visits in telehealth services, and therefore reduces access to care for communities that need it the most. Funding audio visits at only 65% of the Medi-Cal rate creates barriers to care for patients who prefer audio, don’t have access to video or require audio for privacy or safety concerns. Cutting provider rates for what we know is a vital service now accessible to more than 14 million Californians is a step backward in the fight for health equity.
“We look forward to working with the Legislature to take the lessons learned from the pandemic and ensure the final budget does more to address the inequities in the system, rather than putting barriers back up to access. The state must continue to trust and invest in the public health care system to advance equitable health care access.”
According to the California Health Benefits Review Program (CHBRP), coverage of telephone visits reduces transportation barriers to in-person care and increases health care options for patients, which would result in "equivalent or better outcomes (compared with in-person care) because they would no longer delay or avoid in-person visits because of travel difficulties." Furthermore, according to CHBRP, creating parity in telehealth access between Medi-Cal and commercial plans "would decrease income disparities in access to health care and health outcomes by reducing delays in in-person care for some conditions, as well as providing equal access to all modalities of care."
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) is the state public policy office representing California’s seven separately incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates. Through advocacy and electoral action, PPAC promotes sound public policy in areas of sexual and reproductive health care and sex education.