HEALTH ACCESS ALERT
Tuesday, March 1st, 2005
GOVERNOR STARTS COLLECTING SIGNATURES FOR INITIATIVES
- Coming Soon, November 2005: Budget Ballot Proposals That Would Harm Health Care
Governor Schwarzenegger today announced that he would start collecting signatures for various ballot measures for a potential special election this November 2005. The initiatives are “aimed at changing the state’s public pension funds, changing how teachers are paid and revising how political districts are drawn,” according to the AP. These actions set in motion a march toward a controversial special election that may cost as much as $70 million, and which may results in dramatic impacts on health care.
“I am going to travel all around the state for the next couple days to get the signature drive going and make sure that we are able to qualify my reforms for the ballot,” said Schwarzenegger. A transcript and video of his remarks are at the Governor’s website at: http://www.photos.gov.ca.gov/essay45.html
ROBO-CUTS: Most troubling to health advocates, the Governor is anticipated to also support an additional measure to change state budgeting, which would limit the state’s ability to provide health care and other vital services. Health Access California and other consumer groups are opposing stricter spending caps and automatic across-the-board cut formulas that have been floated. These measures would necessitate devastating cuts in health care services, especially since they do not recognize that health care has historically risen at greater than inflation, and that health services are needed more at exactly the times when state revenues decline.
Yet Schwarzenegger has called this effort “job one.” Last week, the Governor participated in staged event where he promoted this “budget reform” with a giant prop of the Capitol pouring “red ink.” His office produced the following information about the proposal for automatic, across-the-board cuts: http://www.governor.ca.gov/govsite/pdf/press_release/Spending_Control_Proposal.pdf
MANY PROPOSALS: However, it is unclear what exactly may be on the ballot in terms of his budget proposals. As of this writing, the Governor has yet to choose from several proposed versions of stricter spending caps or across-the-board cut formulas. All of his options are filed at the Attorney General’s office, and are also available on the Secretary of State’s website, at: http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/elections_j.htm#ag
The Governor’s initiatives won’t be the only proposals on the November ballot, if the special election is held. Several organizations have filed other proposals on topics of initerest for both California consumers, as well as health care voters.
After Governor Schwarzenegger’s vetoes of several bills opposed by the prescription drug industry, Health Access California and other organizations are supporting the “Cheaper Prescription Drugs for California Act (Ca Rx Plus),” as a way to provide significant savings for uninsured, underinsured, and seniors in California. More information will be forthcoming about these independent efforts shortly, as they become released from the Attorney General’s office with Title and Summary, and ready for petition circulation and signature collection.
FEDERAL BUDGET ACTION DAYS
Call Your Senators and Representatives to Oppose Cuts to Medicaid and Other Vital Services
National advocates are declaring WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2 and/or TUESDAY, MARCH 8 as Federal Budget Action Days to prevent cuts to Medicaid and other vital services.
President Bush’s budget proposes a $45-60 billion cut to Medicaid over the next ten years, which would have a devastating impact on health care for the millions of children, seniors, and people with disabilities that have Medi-Cal coverage here in California. He also has suggested the possibility of caps on Medicaid and other programs, which would handcuff our ability to deal with future health care needs.
Californians need to tell our Congressional representatives to oppose any budget that cuts basic services now or sets rigid caps that cut more and more each year. The House and Senate Budget Committees are expected to draft their budget resolutions starting the week of March 7. The future of Medicaid funding could be decided in the next few weeks.
ACTION #1: CALL CALIFORNIA’S SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES. THE TOLL-FREE NUMBER FOR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2: 1-800-247-2971
This toll-free number is provided courtesy of the American Friends Service Committee, which has launched a new budget campaign, http://www.saveourservices.org/ If you can’t get through on that line, please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, who can direct you to your Congressional representative.
ACTION #2: CALL GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER and urge him to publicly oppose Medicaid cuts and caps. His Sacramento office is 916-445-2841.
Health advocates also need to continue to push Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to take leadership in this fight. California has the most to lose from federal Medicaid cuts and caps: Our state has the largest Medicaid population, one of the biggest percentage of uninsured residents, and already the lowest cost per person in Medicaid. As the prominent Governor of the largest state, he needs to protect California’s interest and oppose these federal health care cuts and caps.