Voters Approve Permanent Fee to Fund Medi-Cal

Hospitals say the fee is crucial to California's medical safety net.  (David McNew/Getty Images)

This post has been updated with the final vote count.

California voters have approved Proposition 52, a ballot measure that makes permanent a fee on hospitals that helps fund Medi-Cal, the state's health insurance plan for low-income Californians.

The measure was proposed by hospitals, who spent more than $60 million to promote it. Dignity Health alone spent $8,478,390 to promote the proposition. With all precincts reporting, the measure passed 70-30 percent in unofficial results.

The fee currently draws $3.5 billion a year in federal matching funds. Hospitals say the fee system provides a major source of funding for Medi-Cal patients.

The fee system is routinely renewed by the Legislature but requires support from a two-thirds super-majority of lawmakers. Hospitals say permanently extending it ensures the funding source is protected from politics.

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A union representing health care workers opposed the measure, saying it benefits wealthy hospital executives.