HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Monday, July 14, 2003
SENATE TO VOTE ON SENATE REPUBLICAN BUDGET
PROPOSAL WOULD DENY HEALTH COVERAGE TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN;
DENY PRESCRIPTION DRUGS TO LOW-INCOME SENIORS AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow, Tuesday, July 15th, on a budget proposal by the Senate Republican Caucus. In order to avoid increasing revenues, this plan would cut an additional $2.7 billion from the plan (AB1769) proposed by Senate Democrats in late June.
SIGNIFICANT HEALTH CUTS: The Senate Republican plan would make it much harder for California seniors, children, and families to get the care they need. Cuts of note:
* CHILD HEALTH COVERAGE: Rescind continuous eligibility for children ($76M; $175M in 05-06). This would endanger continuity of care for the 3 million children in Medi-Cal, and the loss of coverage for eventually up to 471,500 children, who would drop off health insurance when the circumstances of their parents change.
* BENEFITS: Eliminate or reduce various medically necessary Medi-Cal benefits ($693M), in some cases beyond what has been proposed by anybody previously.
* PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: Half of the savings of this proposal would be to reduce prescription drug coverage to the 3 million adults, seniors, and people with disabilities with Medi-Cal coverage by 25%. It is unstated how such a savings would be generated, but such a large reduction would need to involve denying patients medically necessary prescription drugs, including anti-psychotics, insulin, pain medications, treatment for HIV and AIDS, many cancer medications, anti-biotics and other life-saving and life-maintaining prescriptions. Such a reduction would also cause additional hospitalizations, which would probably cost more than any booked savings.
* ELIMINATION OF BENEFITS: This proposal would also eliminate many benefits for the roughly 3 million adults on Medi-Cal, including acupuncture, family nurse, independent rehab facilities, heroin detox centers, occupational therapy, psychology, speech & audiology, and hearing aids.
* REDUCTION OF BENEFITS: This proposal would also cut in half (50%) the following benefits: dental, chiropractic, podiatry, opticians & optical labs, physical therapy, orthotics, adults day health care, and medical supplies such as diabetic test strips, catheters, and asthma supplies. Optometry would be cut by 75%. Outpatient clinics, and durable medical equipment like wheelchairs, crutches and oxygen tanks would be cuts by 25%. Again, it is unstated how these changes would be affected, but it would have to include denying medically necessary benefits to some populations.
* COMMUNITY CLINICS: Reduce many health programs, including the Expanded Access to Primary Care Program, the Indian Health Program, the Seasonal, Agricultural, and Migratory Worker Program, and other crucial funding sources for community clinics on which many areas depend.
* MANAGED CARE SHIFT: Force newly-applying Medi-Cal seniors & people with disabiltiies into managed care, which may end up costing more money yet restricting care for these populations.
Anthony E. Wright
1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814
Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921