Judy Lin at the Sacramento Bee describes the budget situation, and anticipates the kinds of cuts that we will be facing.
If the Governor is serious about trying to solve this budget deficit through cuts alone, it’s going to be very ugly, with a significant and dire human impact.
What does a 10% cut in health care–roughly a third of the state’s budget–mean? Just for Medi-Cal, it sounds small, but:
* A 10% cut in Medi-Cal eligibility would mean denying coverage to 680,000 of the 6.8 million Californians on Medi-Cal–largely low-income children, parents, seniors, and people with disabilities.
* A 10% cut in reimbursement rates in Medi-Cal would be hard, given that Medi-Cal has one of the lowest rates in the nation already (it’s one of the things we are trying to fix with health care reform).
* A 10% cut in benefits would mean having to deny millions of people key services. In the previous budget crises, proposals called for denying coverage for a range of benefits in Medi-Cal, including coverage for prostetic limbs, medical equipment like asthma inhalers and diabetic test strips, and durable medical equipment like wheelchairs.
Here’s a comprehensive chart, a multi-year Health Budget Cuts Scorecard, of some of the cuts proposed, both those rejected and those actually made, during the last budget crisis of a few years ago.
In the new year, we’re going to have to be clear that these options are not acceptable, and force the conversation to include other options–including taxes and revenues.
This budget crisis can’t be solved by cuts alone.