As Governor Schwarzenegger is poised to release his proposal for next year’s state budget, the proposal is expected to include a slew of additional cuts to health and human services.
In anticipation of that announcement, Health Access California today released a new report detailing the six-month impact of nearly $2 billion in cuts already made to the state’s healthcare system in the current budget year. Entitled “The Damage Already Done: A Report on the Impacts of the 2009 Health Care Budget Cuts, Six Months In,” the report documents many of the effects these cuts have had on individual patients, families, health providers, and our economy.
The finding? Just six months into the 2009 budget, hundreds of thousands of Californians have been denied care or coverage for key services, and we see indications of the health system we all rely on is crumbling, with five clinics closing. These cuts are starting to ripple through the health system and our economy, as we lose health jobs and federal matching funds, and people don’t get the help they need to get through these tough times. We deserve a budget that supports, not undercuts, the health of our communities.
Since the Governor signed the budget in July 2009, slashing nearly $2 billion from the health care system, some cuts have been partially averted through various actions. The delay and uncertainty, however, have generated grave consequences. In many cases, cuts were made, resulting in very real human hardships and economic impacts for Californians.
Those impacts include:
* Almost three million low-income adults have lost ten important benefits, such as dental care, vision care, speech therapy, and psychological services – in the last six months, over 450,000 Californians in poverty have either had to forego or pay for dental care; another 240,000 have lost coverage for prescriptions eyeglasses;
* About 93,000 children waited uninsured for Healthy Families coverage until the cut was averted by non-government donations and higher cost sharing for 269,000 children on the program;
* Five community clinics in the state have already been forced to shut down and hundreds of workers have been laid off, an additional 10 clinics are on the brink of closure;
* Thousands of AIDS/HIV patients have been denied access to needed services and affordable medications they rely on;
* About 300,000 low-income women no longer have access to life-saving breast cancer screenings;
* Six domestic violence shelters were temporarily closed while the Legislature passed a bill to find ways to keep shelters open, and even afterwards, most have been forced to reduce services;
The ripple effects of these cuts will continue beyond these short six months, as we see more layoffs and closures of services, and the impacts of people not getting care or preventative services comes to back to haunt us.
“The Damage Already Done” will be distributed at multiple press conferences this week held to address the broader topic of health and human service cuts. Events are scheduled for San Francisco, San Bernardino, and Sacramento this Thursday morning as well as Bakersfield, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, and Modesto on Friday, January 8th.