Hospital Finance Measure On California Ballot May Stump Voters

California voters will be asked to weigh in this November on a hospital financing measure so politically and financially complicated that they might be tempted to avoid it altogether.

The initiative, Proposition 52, would make permanent the “Hospital Quality Assurance Fee,” which the state collects from private hospitals to bring in additional federal dollars for Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid health care program for the poor. The federal government matches money that California puts up to fund Medi-Cal services.

The dollars generated by the fee are used to fund hospital services and children’s health care under Medi-Cal, and the ballot measure would help ensure the money is not diverted by lawmakers for other uses.

Hospitals like the fee, which has been in place since 2009, because it gives them a big financial boost in what they say is an underfunded government health program. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, hospitals received an additional $3.5 billion to pay for services they provided to Medi-Cal patients, according to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

But the arcane details of the measure might be too much for many voters to sort out, and a lot of them “won’t do any homework,” said Wesley Hussey,