HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2003

Today, many Assemblymembers and over 100 organizations announced their support to go beyond the Governor’s May Revise revenue proposal and fully restore the upper tax brackets, which would generate another $1 billion to restore the proposed cuts to Medi-Cal. The increase would only affect the highest-earning 2.4% of Californians, and would be only a fraction of federal tax cuts enacted in the last two years.

ATTACHED is:

* The press release from the event this morning (also printed below).

* A list of the 100+ organizations that support raising the revenues needed to prevent the cuts to Medi-Cal.

* A graph showing the comparative impact of the proposed upper tax bracket restoration, and the two enacted federal tax cuts.

* A chart showing the economic impact of the Medi-Cal cuts that upper tax bracket restoration could prevent.

* A California Budget Project fact sheet on the upper tax bracket proposal.

Much thanks to the 100+ organizations that quickly responded and were able to sign on to this statement, in the span of a mere week!

For Immediate Release: For More Information, Contact:

Monday, June 2nd, 2003 Joe Landon, 916-319-2925

Anthony Wright 916-442-2308

* ASSEMBLYMEMBERS AND BROAD COALITION PUSH

LONG-TERM BUDGET FIX TO PREVENT HEALTH CUTS

* Over 100 Organizations To Turn Up Grassroots Pressure for Revenues Package

That Includes AB 4 (Chan) for Full Upper Tax Bracket Restoration;

* State Increase on High-Income Earners Would Be Fraction of Bush Tax Cut;

* Would Raise the Billion Dollars Needed to Prevent Medi-Cal Cuts,

* Preserve Health System, and Bring in Federal Dollars

SACRAMENTO–Representatives of over 100 organizations, representing seniors, children, people with disabilities, people of faith, consumers, and communities across the state, joined Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan (D-Oakland), Assemblywoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health, Assemblyman Joe Nation (D-San Rafael) and many other Assemblymembers in support of AB 4 (Chan), fully reinstating the upper tax brackets of 10 and 11 percent. This proposal, in addition to the Governor’s revenue proposal in the May Revision of his budget, would collect an additional billion dollars in revenues needed to restore proposed Medi-Cal cuts, now and into the future.

“The sheer size of the deficit and its multi-year nature call for an equitable response that does not decimate the state’s investment in critical health services,” said Assemblywoman Chan. “Health protection for the working poor is essential in order to keep these people engaged in the rebuilding of our economy.”

This effort is in response to widespread opposition to approximately a billion dollars in proposed Medi-Cal cuts that would deny children, seniors, people with disabilities, and the working poor basic health coverage, benefits, and access to providers. The cuts in the Governor’s May Revise would:

· Impose a requirement for low-income working parents to file quarterly status reports, for the express purpose of having hundreds of thousands fall off Medi-Cal coverage;

· Impose costs onto tens of thousands of very low-income seniors and people with disabilities, by reducing eligibility for no-cost Medi-Cal.

· Eliminate a range of 14 medically necessary benefits for around 3 million parents, seniors, and people with disabilities on Medi-Cal, including medical supplies, dental, vision, medical equipment, hearing aids, rehab therapy, and others.

· Reduce Medi-Cal provider rates by 15%, which would lead some doctors, nursing homes, and health providers to not provide care to the 6.5 million Californians on Medi-Cal.

Both the Assembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees on Health restored many of the proposed cuts to Medi-Cal. The Assembly Republican Caucus specifically supports restoring the some of the cuts to Medi-Cal provider rates, eligibility, and dental benefits.

“Californians must make a choice,” said Barbara Inatsugu, president of the League of Women Voters of California. “We can fully reinstate these top tax brackets or we can deny health care to thousands of seniors, children and working parents. The League votes for health care.”

AB 4 replicates a measure signed into law by Governor Pete Wilson in 1991 on a temporary basis. Former Governor Ronald Reagan signed into law two increases in the top brackets, one in 1967, and again in 1971. The Governor’s May Revise calls for a half-cent sales tax increase, a tobacco tax increase, and a scaled-down increase on high-income earners, creating one 10.3 percent bracket. The Governor’s proposal would raise $1.6 billion in 2003-04; AB 4 would raise $2.6 billion.

Only the highest-earning 2.4 percent of California taxpayers would be affected by the proposed increase in AB 4, mostly families with over $272,230 in annual income, after deductions. The recent federal tax cuts will provide substantial savings to high-income earners that far exceed the increased state taxes they would pay under the proposed top brackets.

“The Bush tax package passed last week provided only one-time aid to states, yet long term benefits to the wealthiest. For a California millionaire who also depends on the viability of our health system, this increase would be less than half of the federal tax cut signed last week, and only a fraction of the 2001federal tax cut when it fully kicks in. Everybody needs to share in the solution to the budget crisis, so that we can keep our community and economy healthy,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California. “We need our legislature to raise the revenues to preserve basic health coverage for the 6.5 million seniors, people with disabilities, children and parents on Medi-Cal.”

The groups around the state are organizing town hall meetings, legislative visits, and other grassroots efforts to this budget solution. “AARP will use its resources and full political weight not just to oppose the Medi-Cal cuts that would close nursing homes and deny coverage and medically necessary care and supplies to California seniors, but to raise the revenues needed to prevent these cuts in the long term,” said Helen Russ, State President of AARP California. “Our members support raising revenues–including restoring the upper tax brackets–to prevent the harmful cuts proposed to the health system on which we all rely.”

More than 100 California organizations signed on to support the revenue package in the Governor’s May Revise Budget package, as well as the full restoration of the upper tax brackets to restore the proposed cuts to Medi-Cal. They include: AARP, AFSCME, CA Association of NonProfits, CA Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, CA Church Impact, CA Federation of Teachers, CA Foundation for Independent Living Centers, CA Labor Federation, CA National Organization of Women, CA State PTA, Children Now, Congress of California Seniors, Consumer Federation of California, Consumers Union, Gray Panthers California, Health Access, Housing California, League of Women Voters of California, MALDEF, Mental Health Association, National Association of Social Workers, Older Women’s League, PICO California Project, Protection & Advocacy, Inc., SEIU, Western Center on Law and Poverty, and many others.

Health Access California is the statewide umbrella coalition of over 200 organizations working for quality, affordable health care for all. Formed in 1987, the coalition includes organizations representing seniors, people with disabilities, communities of color, patients, labor, health care professionals, people of faith, children, and families across the state.

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