Budget blues, redux…

The recent news about a growing budget deficit is alarming, with the debate now about whether the deficit is at $10 billion or $14 billion for next year. Word is that legislation that costs any money won’t be getting Appropriations Committee next year.

As with five years ago, health care advocates are bracing for big cuts, at exactly the time when people need help the most. Health care is counter-cyclical: more people need Medi-Cal and other health programs at exactly the economic times when budget cutters want to scale them back.

The hope of health reform is that it can raise the revenues needed to fund both current and expanded health care programs. If there is no money raised from health reform, we are simply looking at cuts for the next few years.

We already have children’s enrollment and prescription drug programs zeroed out last year, and we should expect other cuts to be proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger; the question is will he challenge those in his party to raise revenues as well? We have always been for a balanced solution to the budget crisis, one that includes both cuts and revenues.

As Dan Walters and the folks at Calitics have said, a sizable portion of that deficit is the $6 billion from the car tax that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigned against and cut. So it seems only appropriate to raise revenues by at least $6 billion as we figure our way out of this hole.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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