Our report revealing the full magnitude of the health care budget cuts got lots of good response and press attention (such as from the Contra Costa Times, Ventura County Star, New America Media, and others) earlier this week.
For those following the budget, we have one-sheet on the proposed health cuts in the 2008-09 Health Care Budget on our home page.
The Budget Conference Committee is expected to come back on Monday, and perhaps close out in this week. Our website also has an often-updated Budget Cuts Scorecard where you can follow along to see–item by item–what the Assembly has done, what the Senate has done, and what the Conference Committee had done on a specific cut.
The scorecard answers the relevant question: where is the Legislature on the proposals that would deny coverage to one million Californians?
Our report details four cuts that lead one million Californians to be denied:
* One of the biggest and most direct cuts, to directly close eligibility for 430,000 low-income working parents, has been rejected by both the Senate and the Assembly.
* Two of the smaller cuts have been accepted by both the Senate and Assembly: the increase in premiums for Healthy Families, and the suspension of key reforms to streamline eligibility for children. Together, that potentially would prevent as many as 160,000 children (and some parents) from getting coverage.
* The Assembly rejected the other big cut, to impose paperwork requirements through quarterly status reports, which would by 2010 deny coverage to 470,000 children. The Senate, however, is looking at imposing the additional paperwork every six months, which would have from a third to half the impact, but it would still be significant. We’ll see what they decide.
In short, the Legislature has indicated that, in the best case scenario, the budget will contain health cuts to leave roughly 150,000 more Californians without coverage. The Conference Committee will determine if that number could go to 300,000 or more… and if the “Big 4” negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans don’t yield the necessary revenues to prevent these cuts, the number of uninsured Californians could grow by over one million.
Let’s also not forget two other major categories of cuts: the provider rates, which were cut 10% and the Legislature is considering making some restorations; and the proposed elimination of dental and other key benefits to Medi-Cal patients, the impacts of which are detailed in this fact sheet, entitled “Vital Medi-Cal Benefits on the Chopping Block “.
Decisions made in the next weeks will determine the fate of care and coverage for hundreds of thousands, if not millions. The stakes are high.