Depending on who you ask — the Department of Finance or the Legislative Analyst’s Office —California is facing a budget deficit of $38 billion to $68 billion, with annual budget deficits anticipated to continue for multiple years. 

When revenues crash this hard, calls for higher taxes won’t be far behind. CAA members have already been recent targets of tax increases across the state: Berkeley (Measure M), San Francisco (Measure M), and Santa Cruz (Measure N) have all, in recent years, put forth taxes specifically targeting the rental housing industry. The cities of Davis, Pacific Grove, Napa, Santa Ana, Half Moon Bay, Los Angeles, and West Hollywood, among others, have contemplated similar proposals.

In fiscal times like these, saving the state money can reduce the need for tax increases. Luckily, CAA supports a measure that permanently locks in billions of dollars in annual savings for the state. In 2019, Gov. Newsom issued an executive order creating the Medi-Cal Rx prescription drug program. The program strengthens the state’s bargaining power over prescription drugs for Medi-Cal patients and makes prescription drug purchases funded by taxpayers generally more affordable. The Department of Finance has determined that the Medi-Cal Rx program generates $2.8 billion in annual savings for the California state budget. Despite the importance of these savings, though, the Medi-Cal Rx program enjoys no permanent statutory authorization and has been the subject of legal challenges.  

Enter CAA’s Protect Patients Now Act. The measure provides full statutory authorization for the Medi-Cal Rx program — ensuring that its billions of dollars in annual budget savings are locked in permanently. Furthermore, the Protect Patients Now Act reforms California healthcare policy in a way that the Legislative Analyst’s Office predicts could further “expand spending on direct patient care for Medi-Cal patients” by certain healthcare providers. Given that healthcare spending is one of the largest components of the state budget, every extra dollar that healthcare providers must spend on direct patient care can potentially reduce the burden on the state general fund. 

By permanently locking in billions of dollars in state savings every year and increasing healthcare provider spending on direct patient care, the Protect Patients Now Act makes an essential contribution to solving the state’s budget deficit. Given that about three-quarters of the state budget flows to state services and systems operated locally, the Protect Patients Now Act helps undermine the rationale for state and local tax increases — including those targeted at CAA members. Thus, the Protect Patients Now Act saves billions of dollars for state budgets, so there is less need for new and higher taxes. For additional information on CAA’s ballot measure, go to