HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE:
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
BUDGET PASSES ASSEMBLY; NOW HEADS TO GOVERNOR
* Cuts Now, Next Year, Into the Future
After the “longest legislative day in the history” that extended from yesterday morning through the night into this evening, the state Assembly passed a budget, AB1765, by a vote of 56-22. The health trailer bill, AB1762, passed by a vote of 54-22. The Assembly adjourned afterward until mid-August. The budget will head to the Governor, who is expected to sign it in the next week.
On the main budget, the unofficial tally has most Democrats supporting the bill, along with Republican Assemblymembers Aghazarian, Benoit, Cogdill, Cox, Daucher, Dutton, Harman, Shirley Horton, Houston, Leslie, and Maze. All other Republicans present voted no. Democratic Assemblymembers Dutra and Canciamilla voted no. Assemblymembers Firebaugh and Maddox were absent/excused for the session.
On the health trailer bill, most Democrats supported the bill, with the exception of Assemblywomen Cohn and Chan that voted against it, and Assemblymembers Dutra and Goldberg that abstained. Most Republicans voted no, with the exception of 11 who supported it, including Aghazarian, Benoit, Cogdill, Cox, Daucher, Dutton, Garcia, Harman, Shirley Horton, Leslie, and Maze.
This was virtually identical to the budget passed by the Senate on Sunday night, July 27th, by a vote of 27-10. The budget had the support of most Democrats, as well as Republican Senators Ashburn, Brulte, Johnson, Knight, and McPherson. All other Republican Senators voted no. Democratic Senators Alarcon and Soto abstained and Senator Vasconcellos was absent.
With the discussion taking place behind closed doors, the public debate in both houses was minimal. In both houses, the Democratic leadership successfully requested that at least a third of the Republican caucuses (5 of 15 Senators; 11 of 34 Assemblymembers) vote in support, since the budget met the main Republican demand that it not include increased taxes.
ATTACHED is our revised and updates Health Budget Cuts Scorecard, which indicates the health cuts made in this Senate Budget Deal, as well as those in previous rounds.
COMMENT ON HEALTH CUTS: Seniors, children, and all hospital patients will have their health care negatively affected by this budget, now, next year, and into the future.
* Already half of all doctors won’t provide care to the 6.5 million Californians with Medi-Cal coverage, and this budget cuts rates by 5% so even more doctors will refuse to care for these children, seniors, and people with disabilities.
* Next year, this budget proposal would make significant cuts to nursing homes, hospitals, and Healthy Families plans. The Senate has approved a spending freeze on these caregivers without a single hearing on the impacts. While we do not know the specifics, care will be compromised to seniors, children, and all hospital patients.
* By not raising revenues, the Legislature just postponed the worst of cuts for next year’s budget crisis, where we are projected to have an approximately $8 billion deficit. We have squandered an opportunity to ask everyone, including high-income earners, to share in the solution. While legislative leaders correctly stood against many cuts that would directly deny needed care to California families, they neglected to use this opportunity to find a long term solution to the budget crisis–and remove the continued threat of additional health cuts.
Anthony E. Wright
1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814
Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921