We did it together! On July 27, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a historic state budget agreement extending telehealth to Medi-Cal patients and expanding access to health care for millions of Californians. The budget includes equal funding for phone and video appointments, through December 2022, and our supporters played an important role in making it happen.
Our victory together was hard-won because some policymakers needed to be educated about the essential role telehealth plays in providing access to health care for those who often have to surmount huge obstacles to get in to a health center. The fact is, it’s a myth that all care in the exam room is better than audio telehealth. There are many kinds of preventive care services that can be done just as effectively or even more effectively when a patient doesn’t have to come in.
Stories from doctors and patients highlighted the truth: That patients see improved health outcomes because telehealth means they aren’t forced to get transportation, child care, and time off work to get the services they need.
People deserve access to health care no matter what. Patients who don’t have reliable transportation options can have regular phone or video telehealth appointments to manage their symptoms and medication. With this win we can ensure that having to make an arduous trip to the doctor’s office is no longer a barrier to care.
When our supporters heard how important telehealth is to so many of Planned Parenthood's patients, they lobbied their legislators—for some this was their first time!—sent postcards, tweeted, and recruited their friends and family to do the same.
While this is a temporary victory in ensuring equitable access to health care, we remain committed to developing future telehealth policy in collaboration with Gov. Newsom and the California Department of Health Care Services.