Cuts and Caps to Harm Health Care?

HEALTH ACCESS ALERT
Monday, February 2, 2009

BUDGET ACTION ALERT: STATE LEADERS NEAR BUDGET DEAL

* Budget Expected to Include Significant Additional Cuts & Spending Cap
* Cap Could Future Health Cuts, Prevent Action on Key Unmet Health Needs
* ACTION: Call State Legislators to Oppose Cruel Cuts & Cap TODAY

* Federal Economic Recovery Act Update: Senate Version Fall Short in Help to CA
* ACTION: Call U.S. Senators to Urge House Provisions on Medicaid

Click for What’s New on the Health Access Weblog: Report from Families USA Conference in DC; Health Help in the Back; The Responsibilities of a Nonprofit Hospital; The Problems with a Spending Cap; Comments Sought on Timely Access to Care Regulations; Max Healthroom; Contributing to the National Conversation on The Treatment; A Sailing SCHIP…

Big decisions are pending in Sacramento and Washington , DC , that will have a big impact on our health care, our economy, and our budget.

Cruel Cuts—and a Spending Cap That Would Force More Cuts in the Future

As California ’s budget crisis deepens and the state starts to run out of money, the pressure mounts for the Governor and state legislative leaders of both parties to come to a budget deal. After $16 billion in cuts in recent budgets, there has been a deadlock in the legislature—which needs a two-thirds vote to pass a budget or taxes—about how to deal with the over $40 billion deficit for the year and a half through June 2010.

At this late date, there have been indications that, after years of sticking to a “no new taxes” pledge and withholding the votes needed to get to two-thirds for a balanced budget, legislative Republicans may be willing to support some forms of taxes and revenues. However, their price for such support has been even harsher cuts, and a strict spending cap, one that would likely force to health and other vital services in the future and would prevent any attempt to meet existing unmet needs in California .

ACTION: Call your state Assemblymember (www.assembly.ca.gov) and state Senator (www.sen.ca.gov) to urge them to OPPOSE ADDITIONAL CUTS and especially to OPPOSE A SPENDING CAP that forces future cuts and prevent the state from meeting our existing health care needs. CALL TODAY! The Legislature could act quickly.

Federal Help for Health Care in Economic Recovery Act

The state is slated to get some much-needed help from the federal government in the form of the economic recovery bills being considered in the U.S. Congress. On health care, the bills provide for increased matching fund for Medi-Cal, new funding for health informational technology, and temporary subsidies for coverage for the unemployed.

There are two key differences between the two measures:

* The House version would increase federal matching funds based on a formula that targets some money to states with the worst economic climate; The Senate version largely does not. The difference to California could be $1.5 billion.

* While both versions provide some subsidizes to help some unemployed with COBRA payments so they can pay for coverage, only the House version funds a 100% federally funded temporary Medicaid expansion for unemployed adults.

While even the most generous economic recovery package will only make a dent in the state’s dire budget situation, every bit helps.

ACTION: Call Senators Boxer (202-224-3553) and Senator Feinstein (202-224-3841) to urge them to argue for more help for Californian and California ’s unemployed—and then urge them to pass the economic recovery package without delay or dilution. Also urge them to support the House version of Medicaid matching funds, and the temporary Medicaid expansion for unemployed adults.

For more information, contact Health Access California, at 510-873-8787, or www.health-access.org. More analysis about the budget will be available on the Health Access daily blog, at: http://www.health-access.org/blogger.html

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

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