The news coverage of the budget, if anything, has downplayed the impact of the budget on health care. Let me focus on what we consider is the biggest of the cuts newly announced yesterday, that would impact the most number of people.
The San Francisco Chronicle mentions that the Medi-Cal eligibility cut would mean that “40,000 poor working parents, who now receive comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage, would have their benefits reduced if they earn more than about $12,000 for a family of three.”
Actually, these parents, who would make roughly $10,736-$17,600/year for a family of three, would lose access to Medi-Cal coverage. Some might be eligible for other programs, but many would simply become uninsured.
More to the point, the 39,000 people impacted in the first year is only the beginning. In a few years, after full implementation, the cut would deny coverage to 439,000 Californians.
The Los Angeles Times described it in this way, that the budget would “Deny thousands of impoverished parents healthcare coverage that they now have through the state’s Medi-Cal program. Under the change, a single parent with one child who earns more than $8,540 a year would no longer be eligible.” Tha was correct, but downplayed the massive scale of the cut–that the impact was eventually deny *hundreds of thousands* of Californians.
The Sacramento Bee has an article that doesn’t go into the specific horror of the cuts.
The sidebar that describes the budget “highlights” doesn’t even mention this cut to Medi-Cal eligibility–even though it is the health cut with the biggest impact in the May Revise. That sidebar does list some of the bad cuts, but also neglects to mention a major-dollar proposed cut from January, that would also eliminate key benefits, like dental, optometry, and podiatry, for millions of adults on coverage. It’s unclear why some cuts were included and other, bigger cuts were not.
Let’s hope that future coverage of the budget goes into the full implications of what is being proposed here. The cuts are bad enough that they don’t need embellishment, but they do need coverage, so Californians can understand the stark choices, and how they would impact our fellow citizens and our health system.