So, it’s official. If no positive health expansions are passed, Governor Schwarzenegger’s “year of health reform” will actually take us backwards in terms of Californians’ access to care, given these budget cuts.
In addition to the cuts that we have highlighted here, I would be remiss to not mention the most cruel cut–the $55 million cut to aid the mentally ill homeless, for what all accounts is an effective, humane programs that provides savings in the long term. Both Frank Russo and Bill Bradley point out how the Republican forces this cut while fighting for a $45 million yacht tax credit.
The San Francisco Chronicle also spotlights the cuts to children’s health coverage outreach and enrollment efforts. The article spotlights Frances Culp and the work of the Bringing Up Healthy Kids (BUHK) Coalition, which Health Access helped start and coordinate several years ago, but was cut significantly during the last budget crisis. It survived with strong local leadership through the lean times and recently has had great success, especially with the work of the NICOS Chinese Health Coalition. The San Francisco effort has always been a model about how to effectively enroll children and families into coverage and to best stay on and use it effectively… and yet every time it gets on a roll, it faces the budget axe.
This on-again, off-again funding stream is no way to run a health system, especially if the goal is to cover all children, much less all Californians.
There’s also good articles on the budget cuts in the San Jose Mercury News and the Sacramento Bee , which also spotlight the zeroing out of the prescription drug discount program for the next budget year. My understanding was that the Department of Health Services already some potential vendors and a few agreements with drug companies in place. We’ll have to follow-up on this next week.