Other reactions to the health budget…

Shane Goldmacher at the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert has a useful compilation of some of the reactions to the budget. Here’s some that touch on the health budget, from Health Access board leaders, member organizations, allies, and others:

Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers: “The governor’s budget revision tries to protect education, but lacks the funding to do it… Shifting the bulk of the cuts to health and human services is a disguised cut to education. These programs aren’t isolated from schools. Our students need to come to school ready to learn, and they can’t do that hungry or sick.” “School kids did not cause this crisis,” said Hittelman. “Their teachers and school staff are being confronted with uncertain futures. It’s time to put in place a fair, stable and progressive funding source for education and other vital services.”

Ted Lempert, president of Children Now: “It’s mind-boggling that too many of our state’s leaders still can’t see the shortsightedness of cutting children’s health, education and economic support. California’s children currently are well behind national average measures of well-being and per-child funding. It’s also clear that investment in these programs today will reduce the state’s future costs and increase its future revenues. Yet California continues to make decisions that are leading us closer and closer to a next generation that can’t support our human capital needs and increasingly overburdens public costs. We’re shortchanging our future in big, bad ways.”

Annelle Grajeda, president of SEIU California State Council and SEIU Local 721: “We need our elected leaders to understand that the people of California will not accept cuts that hurt our children, seniors, and communities. The proposed budget reflects a short-term mentality, but we’ve got a long-term problem on our hands. Cuts that yield quick savings now but create costly problems later are unwise. This budget is a missed opportunity to move the ball forward.”

Cathy Maupin, interim executive director of the California Children’s Defense Fund: “In a state with the 8th largest economy in the world, it is a moral outrage that cuts to foster care, health coverage, cash assistance for children, and food programs are even being considered. Our policy makers must recognize that every step taken to improve the lives of children improves the lives of all Californians. Instead of structuring our state budget to address the urgent needs facing millions of California’s families, the Governor proposes once again to balance the budget on the backs of our state’s most vulnerable population: children. In many cases one family will feel the effects of multiple cuts simultaneously. For example, the same child receiving CalWORKs may experience a freeze in her cash benefits, be disenrolled from health care, and have her food assistance benefits reduced.”

Tom Porter, California state director AARP: “AARP is extremely disappointed with the Governor’s 2008 May budget proposal, announced today. Far from improving upon his initial budget proposal, the Governor’s budget revision proposes even deeper cuts to critical services to the most vulnerable Californians.

AARP believes that highest priority in the budget process should be given to programs that serve the state’s most vulnerable populations – specifically low-income children, as well as disabled and older adults. The budget should not be balanced on the backs of these most vulnerable Californians. We believe our elected leaders should fully fund the “safety net” programs that are critical to the well-being of those who cannot care for themselves. Further, our health care system is failing. Drastic cuts have already weakened these critical programs. If approved, the Governor’s new proposal means fewer people will have access to services and the health care crisis will simply get worse. AARP believes that policymakers should consider revenue enhancements rather than cut services to California’s most vulnerable persons.”

C. Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Association: “The May Revision of the Administration’s proposed 2008-09 State Budget contains bad news for health care consumers across California. With the state facing a projected $17.2 billion deficit, the proposal released today would result in crushing, disproportionate cuts to the Medi-Cal program – including up to $184 million in cuts to hospitals caring for the most vulnerable in our state. Adding insult to injury, these proposed cuts come on top of more than $1.3 billion in Medi-Cal reductions to all health care providers that were enacted earlier this year and are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2008.

The additional payment cuts proposed in the May Revise include $22 million for inpatient services provided at hospitals that do not contract with the Medi-Cal program; $54 million in cuts to some public hospitals through the Safety Net Care Pool; and approximately $12 million in payment reductions in the Medi-Cal managed care program. Additionally, hospitals may experience up to an additional $96 million in losses as a result of changes being proposed to Medi-Cal eligibility and benefits.

If these additional cuts are adopted into law, more patients covered by the Medi-Cal program will not receive needed health care services. Some hospitals cannot meet payroll beginning in late June as a result of the 10 percent cuts and payment delays already enacted; other hospitals will be severely affected. It is a lose–lose proposition for both patients and hospitals.
California’s hospitals have a long-standing commitment to ensuring that every Californian should have equitable access to safe, affordable, high-quality, medically necessary health care. But this goal is endangered by the proposed slashing of the Medi-Cal program. California already ranks dead-last in the nation when it comes to funding health care for Medicaid patients. Further reductions only serve to fracture an already broken health care system, while at the same time costing the state in lost matching federal dollars.”

Dr. Richard Frankenstein, president of California Medical Association: “These budget cuts will devastate access to health care for millions of poor Californians and will wreak havoc on the ability of middle class Californians to meet their health care needs. If this budget somehow passes and even a fraction of these cuts go into effect, Governor Schwarzenegger’s legacy to the people of California will not be the health care reform he has promised, but instead a health care system damaged beyond belief.

All Californians should sit up and take notice. These cuts will not just take wheelchairs away from the disabled, deprive poor children of access to their critical health care needs, and leave seniors stranded. The cuts will also raise the costs of health care for employers and families, undermine the quality of care in emergency rooms, and shut down doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics in communities across California. The health and well-being of all Californians will suffer under this budget.”

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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