HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE

Friday, December 19, 2003

* BUDGET UPDATE: GOVERNOR’S ACTION

* SB 2 REFERENDUM UPDATE: COURT LIMBO

* SUPPORT THE GROCERY WORKERS STRIKE

* MACY’S PICKETS: MONDAY IN SF, LA, AND SAC

THE BUDGET: THE GOV GIVETH AND TAKETH AWAY

In the past day, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came out with several budget announcements.

* LOCAL GOVERNMENT BACKFILL: He is ordering $2.6 billion to be restored to local cities and counties, money that was stopped when he rescinded the restoration of the vehicle license fee. While praised by mayors and sheriffs, the action make the state’s budget deficit bigger, forcing even additional cuts when the Governor announces his budget on January 9th. As Senate President John Burton indicated in a later press conference, he created the shortfall with the cities and counties in the first place by cutting the vehicle license fee, and now he is forcing even more cuts in the state budget to deal with the consequences.

* IMMEDIATE CUTS: As part of this action without legislative approval, the Governor announces that he was making $150 million of the proposed $1.9 billion in proposed mid-year cuts immediately and unilaterally. These cuts do NOT include cuts to health, developmental services, or mental health, since most of those cuts do require some legislative approval. The proposed reductions are in the University of California, California State University, the Department of Rehabilitation, Department of Social Services, Child Support Services, the Student Aid Commission, other general government areas, and closing a migrant farmworker housing center in Blythe.

* DISABILITY CUTS: In his press conference, Governor Schwarzenegger also made a few comments about his welcome withdrawal of the cuts to people with disabilities. Since no paper has been produced, it is still unclear what specific proposals have been withdrawn. At this writing, it is unknown if he is withdrawing all cuts to services for people with disabilties, or simply the proposal to repeal the Lanterman Act. He said the proposal “slipped through” given the thousand decisions he needed to make, and that it was a “mistake on my part.” It is unlikely that he is withdrawing the full range of cuts that have impact on people with disabilities, including, for example, the 10% cut to Medi-Cal provider rates. In the press conference, Schwarzenegger made clear that he was NOT withdrawing the cap on the Healthy Families program or other proposed cuts.

STRIKING GROCERY WORKERS

The grocery workers strike in southern California has stretched on, mostly due to the issue of health benefits. The grocery workers are on the front lines of the health care crisis: if they lose their fight for health care, then large employers will continue to shift costs onto their workers, or drop coverage altogether. More Californians will be uninsured, and all of us, and the health system we all rely on, will suffer. For this holiday season, consider giving your support to the striking grocery workers. Donations are accepted at:

https://secure.ga3.org/08/groceryworkerholiday/

SB 2 REFERENDUM: STILL IN LIMBO

No word yet from the courts on the status of the SB 2 referendum. The opponents of SB 2 have filed an appeals to the lower court ruling that declares the petitions filed to be misleading and not in compliance with election law. The plaintiffs have filed a response, as has the Secretary of State, which has indicated that the ballots have already been submitted to the printer. Even if the courts rule, there will likely be appeals. There are multiple options:

* It is still possible that the appeals court could make a quick ruling that overturns the lower court, and forces the Secretary of State to place the referendum on the March 2004 ballot, despite the increasing printing and mailing costs given the late date.

* Another possibility is that the courts could simply reinstate the referendum, but decide it is too late to place on the March ballot, and as such move it to the November 2004 ballot.

* Finally, the courts could uphold the ruling to declare the petition misleading and not in compliance; if that’s the case, the opponents of SB 2 may likely start the process again, by gathering signatures for an initiative to repeal SB 2. They will likely have the time to make it onto go on the November 2004 ballot, or later.

Until given a firm answer otherwise, health advocates should assume that the SB 2 referendum will be on the March ballot. If it does appear on the March 2nd ballot, supporters will only have *weeks* to make their case to the California voters.

MONDAY MACY’S PICKETING EVENTS

Macy’s sells

Macy’s sells

Macy’s sells all day

Yet they try to take our families health care away! Hey!

Join us to protest Macy’s contribution of $200,000 to take away basic health care protections for California’s working families.

The pickets are on MONDAY, DECEMBER 22nd, 2003 at 12 NOON, for the lunctime hour at the following locations:

* SAN FRANCISCO: Macy’s at Union Square, Union Square Entrance. For more information of to RSVP, contact Jessica Rothhaar, jessicar@health-access.org, 510-873-8787, x107.

* SACRAMENTO: Macy’s at Downtown Mall, L Street Entrance (between 6th and 7th streets). For more information or to RSVP, contact Anthony Wright, awright@health-access.org, 916-442-2308.

* LOS ANGELES: Macy’s in Downtown LA, 7th Street Entrance. For more information or to RSVP, contact Idabelle Fosse, idabelle@health-access.org, 213-748-5287, x229.



Anthony E. Wright

Executive Director

Health Access

1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814

Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921

awright@health-access.org

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