HEALTH BUDGET CUTS UPDATE & ALERT
June 25, 2002
TRAILER BILLS & TAXES: The Assembly Budget Committee met Monday night and voted on the budget bill (SB 1840) and several trailer bills, including those for education (SB 1841, 1842), general government (SB 1843), social services (SB 1845), and health (SB 1846). They also voted on proposals for tobacco securitization (SB 1831), transportation loans (SB 1847) of $1.2 billion, and a tax package (SB 1849) of $4.7 billion in increased revenues, on which everything hinges.
The tax package includes upper tax bracket restoration, as well as a tobacco tax increase and other items. The Democrats largely voted in favor of all bills. The Republicans voted against the budget, tobacco securitization, and tax bills, and did not vote on the trailer bills, stating that they needed more time to review them. The full Assembly is scheduled to take them up Thursday, June 27.
As of this writing, we understand that the Senate may vote on the budget and related trailer bills as early as Tuesday, June 25.
QUARTERLY STATUS REPORTS: The Omnibus Health Trailer Bill (SB 1846) contains 105 items, legislative language to implement the intent of the various budget committees. One item that is NOT included is the reinstitution of quarterly status reports (QSRs) in Medi-Cal. As you may know, the Budget Conference Committee earlier voted to require adult Medi-Cal recipients to fill out QSRs–as burdensome a process as having to do your taxes four times a year–which was estimated to force almost 250,000 people off of health
coverage. [There was some concern that the imposition of QSRs would have messed up the federal government’s agreement on the Los Angeles 1115 waiver.]
There appears to be some hope in preventing the re-institution of Quarterly Status Reports. The Assembly did NOT include this in the trailer bill. Since the Senate trailer bill needs to be identical to the Assembly, our understanding is that the Senate is placing the QSR issue in a separate bill. This bill may come up for a vote Tuesday, June 25th.
ACTION: Please CALL YOUR SENATOR today to tell them to VOTE AGAINST legislation to require low-income California families to deal with QUARTERLY STATUS REPORTS. It’s a burdensome procedure that forces eligible working families off of health coverage. We need enough Democratic Senators to vote against this concept, which was supported by the Governor and the Conference
Once again, none of this matters without full passage of the budget with increased revenues to makeup the shortfall. The people who fall off of Medi-Cal due to QSR was estimated to have saved the state $155 million. So in making the call, please also URGE YOUR SENATOR to SUPPORT INCREASED REVENUES TO PREVENT THIS AND OTHER SEVERE BUDGET CUTS.
HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
June 24, 2002
CALL-IN SHOW: Jean Ross of the California Budget Project is scheduled to appear on the Bay Area radio show “Forum” on KQED, public radio 88.5FM, this Wednesday, June 26, starting at 9am. She will, as always, persuasively use her considerable expertise to demonstrate to listeners the need for additional revenues and, in particular, upper income tax restoration. While this is NPR, it is still talk radio: It would be good to have friendly calls to back her up, and to talk about the severity of the proposed cuts without
increased revenues. The call-in line is 415-863-2476.
FEDERAL CONFERENCE CALL WITH CMS: Below is a message from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about an important conference call scheduled for this Wednesday, June 26 at 12noon PST. Details below.
California health care advocates have serious issues with CMS, including upper payment limit (UPL) funding to hospitals, disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding issues, and other matters that impact the safety net, quarterly status reports, continuing issues around the 1115 waiver in Los Angeles, issues around waivers CMS may or may not be open to, and various
items about the state Child Health Insurance Program/Healthy Families. California organizations have advocated with our national counterparts for “open door” meetings specifically designed for consumers and their advocates (as opposed to the many for doctors, hospitals, etc.), and for the timing of the meetings to be California-friendly.
As you may know, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has formed 11 “Open Door” Forums that meet monthly or bi-monthly to address concerns that beneficiaries and providers have with our programs. These Open Door Forums have been popular and have achieved tangible results for participants.
As part of a collaboration on health access issues with the Health Resources and Services Administration, we are pleased to announce a forum on low-income health access issues. This meeting will be chaired jointly by CMS Administrator Tom Scully and HRSA Administrator Elizabeth James Duke. Both will have their key policy staff available to answer questions, including Dennis Smith from the Center for Medicaid and State Operations.
The group will meet on Wednesday, June 26, 2002, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm EST. The meeting will be held in Room 800 of the Humphrey Building in Washington, D.C.; you can also participate by conference call by dialing 1-800-837-1935, access code 2813854.
The key items we anticipate that we will discuss at the meetings are:
– Health access initiatives for uninsured families;
– Waivers (including HIFA and PharmacyPlus);
– Impact of CMS policies on safety net providers;
– Health access for dual eligibles and the PACE program;
– Improving enrollment in Medicaid and S-CHIP, including outstationing
– Coordination of CMS decisions with state ADAP programs.
In addition, as at all of our Open Door Forums, we will present opportunities for interested parties to bring issues regarding low-income
health access to our attention.
If you plan to attend the Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg. to particpate in this forum, you must RSVP by sending us your name, organization, and telephone number via email to firstname.lastname@example.org , NO LATER THAN JUNE 24, 2002.
If you have any questions about the session or the Open Door initiative generally, please email Tom Barker at CMS at email@example.com. We look forward to seeing you or hearing from you at the meeting on the 26th.
Please feel free to let your state and local affiliates and other interested individuals know about this Open Door Forum.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Professional Relations Staff