HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Friday, January 9th, 2004
BUDGET CUTS TO DENY COVERAGE TO THOUSANDS, INCREASE HEALTH COSTS FOR MILLIONS
* Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Proposes Medi-Cal Provider Rate Cuts,
Caps on Enrollment in Various Health Programs and Significant Changes to
Governor Schwarzenegger unveiled his budget proposal for the 2004-05 year. On health care issues, he re-affirmed his proposals from his mid-year budget proposal, including cutting provider rates and placing enrollment caps to deny coverage to children in Healthy Families, immigrants in Medi-Cal, children with disabilities in California Childrens Services, and others in various other programs. Other announced cuts were generally on a smaller scale. Of particular interest, the Governor is also proposing “reforms” to Medi-Cal that are not fully detailed, that would not provide savings in the budget year, but that are expected to yield “significant” savings in future years.
SPECIFIC CUTS. The cuts include proposals to:
· MEDI-CAL PROVIDER RATES: Reduce Medi-Cal provider rates by another 10%. This would mean even fewer doctors and other providers would refuse to take Medi-Cal patients; already half do not accept these children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Last year’s 5% cut has been enjoined by Federal courts because of access issues.
· ENROLLMENT CAPS: Deny coverage to children who are eligible to enroll in Healthy Families, as well as children with disabilities in California Children’s Services, immigrants in Medi-Cal, people with disabilities in the Genetically Handicapped Persons Program, patients in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, and other Californians.
· INCREASED COSTS: Raise costs on the low- and moderate-income families on Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, forcing them to pay higher costs for various benefits, through increased co-pays, deductibles, and other costs.
· MAJOR MEDI-CAL CHANGES: Implement long-term changes to Medi-Cal, which currently services over 6 million seniors, people with disabilities, children, and their parents. These include not only increasing costs onto
families, but changing eligibility and enrollment, and reducing benefits.
* Interested advocates can get more detailed documents from the Department of Finance, at: http://www.dof.ca.gov/HTML/BUD_DOCS/Bud_link.htm.
* An alternative analysis is available at the Senate Budget Committee
* A more specific budget overview from the Department of Health and Human Services is at:
IRONY WATCH, CONTINUED: In presenting his budget, Governor Schwarzenegger continued to stress that he will not raise taxes. Yet the budget raising costs (if not taxes in name) on low- and moderate-income Californians to access basic health care, yet it never asks wealthy Californians–like the Governor himself–to share in the solution through restoring the upper tax bracket. The challenge for advocates is to clearly identify these stark choices.
More information and materials about the budget will be forthcoming.
Anthony E. Wright
1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814
Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921