The KQED Capitol Notes Podcast this week perhaps features the three snarkiest reporters in the Sacramento press corps, all good but perhaps more cynical than necessary.
They were skeptical of the argument, advanced by the Governor and others, that the looming budget crisis actually compels us to do health reform. He made this argument most recently at his speech at the conference Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, a member and ally.
Here, I actually agree with the Governor: the budget deficit makes health reform harder, but more urgent. It’s the only way to bring in new money–including federal matching funds–into California. Obviously, it means we’ll have new obligations, but without reform, we’ll be looking at severe health care cuts. Health care is around one-third of the state budget–getting revenues for it helps the entire budget.
Even this year, if we don’t have health reform, then this year will simply mean a step backwards on health care, with the zeroing out of fund for outreach for children’s enrollment and the prescription drug discount program, and the looming SCHIP issue threatening to disenroll children from Healthy Families. The question is whether 2007 will be known for taking steps forward, or steps back.