Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 21, 2012
Medi-Cal boost for California doctors hits a bump

California primary care doctors expect to receive more than twice their current reimbursement rate for treating Medi-Cal patients next year, but those higher payments will now be delayed, according to state officials.

The change in reimbursement rates is part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The federal government has agreed to fund primary care for Medi-Cal patients at the same rate that it pays Medicare providers, hoping to expand the number of doctors willing to treat low-income patients before the Affordable Care Act kicks into overdrive in 2014.

In California, which pays one of the lowest Medicaid rates in the country, primary care physicians can expect to receive 136 percent higher reimbursements, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The state Department of Health Care Services says it intends to eventually give higher payments to doctors for treating Medi-Cal clients, including retroactive payments for treatment after Jan. 1. DHCS blamed the delay on bureaucratic reviews that are not yet final, and it suggested other states also won't be able to pay immediately.

"Since the payment increase will be retroactive to January 1, 2013, any delay in implementation is not expected to impact a provider's willingness to continue serving Medi-Cal members," said DHCS spokesman Norman Williams in a statement.

Gov. Jerry Brown has suggested in recent days that he may not embrace that expansion if it comes with higher state costs, though his argument appeared to be based on his own speculation that "fiscal cliff" negotiations may lead to a dramatic rollback in the Affordable Care Act.

December 21, 2012
Darrell Steinberg names new California Senate committee chairs

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg today announced the leadership lineup for the new session, officially elevating Sen. Kevin de León to head the powerful Appropriations Committee.

The only true freshman in the upper house, Riverside's Richard Roth, was given the chairmanship of the Legislative Ethics Committee and the budget subcommittee on State Administration and General Government.

See the full list, as provided by the Senate, after the jump.

December 21, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Demography is destiny in California

Dan says new population numbers for California contain good news and bad news.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

December 21, 2012
AM Alert: Pelosi announces committee posts for House Dems

VIDEO: Dan Walters says that California's demographics are its destiny.

California Democrats heading to Congress got a glimpse Thursday of what lies ahead as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced committee assignments for new and returning members, including these 11 Golden State freshmen:

Ami Bera of Elk Grove will join Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and Juan Vargas of San Diego on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino drew the Agriculture Committee.

Tony Cardenas of Los Angeles, Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert and Jared Huffman of San Rafael got the nod for the Natural Resources Committee. (Huffman chaired the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee in the Assembly.)

Scott Peters of San Diego will serve on the Armed Services Committee.

Eric Swalwell of Dublin, who defeated long-time congressman Pete Stark, was assigned to the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Mark Takano of Riverside and Julia Brownley of Santa Monica will serve on the Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Of the returning members, Barbara Lee of Oakland was assigned to the Budget Committee, Karen Bass of Los Angeles will serve on the Judiciary Committee, and Janice Hahn of San Pedro drew the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Click here to read the entire list of appointments.

MOMENT OF SILENCE: Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has requested that all governors across the country call for residents of their states to observe a moment of silence today in honor of the victims of the Newtown schoolhouse massacre. Gov. Jerry Brown is calling for Californians to observe that moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time.

HOLIDAY MUSIC: You still have a chance to hear festive tunes in the Capitol rotunda. Today at 11 a.m., listen to violinists Lisa and Stephanie Holzen, followed by what's described as a world music group called Sambandha. Then Saturday at 1 p.m., the State Capitol Museum Singers lead a singalong, followed by vocalist Catherine Cheshire at 2 p.m. On Sunday, the final concert features Festival Brass starting at 1 p.m.

ALERT TAKES A HOLIDAY: The AM Alert will go on hiatus over the holidays. Look for it to resume on Wednesday, Jan. 2.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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