The week in review, awaiting the budget…

Thursday, January 7, 2010

* Gov. Schwarzenegger To Unveil FY10-11 Budget Proposal on Friday, 11:30 a.m.
* Health Access Reveals “The Damage Already Done” Six Months Into 2009-10 Budget
* Stakeholders Meet for First Medi-Cal Waiver Committee Meeting

* 2010 Promises to be a Big Year! Join Us on Facebook! Follow Us on Twitter!

BUDGET TO BE ANNOUNCED FRIDAY: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces the release of his new FY2010-2011 budget around 11:30 a.m. on Friday. All expectations are that the budget proposal will include more painful cuts in programs vital to California’s health and struggling economy. Health Access will review and report later tomorrow on the proposal’s impact on health and human services, with quick reactions on our blog and on Twitter.

ASSESSING “THE DAMAGE ALREADY DONE” BY CUTS BEFORE CONTINUING: 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. Six months into those cuts, families are suffering harmful impacts of being denied access to a range of critical services such as dental care, basic prevention and affordable health care options. We hope this assessment informs the discussion about whether the state can afford to cut more.

THE GOVERNOR’S ANTI-JOBS, ANTI-HEALTHCARE STATE OF THE STATE: But the indications are not positive. Yesterday, the Governor presented his State of the State address. The Governor focused on jobs, but by suggesting tax breaks and credits that would only make the deficit bigger and force additional cuts. He conveyed that the budget will include painful cuts, but did not acknowledge the lost jobs and lost federal funds that would result.

The Governor took the opportunity to oppose the health reform proposals in Congress, completely contrary to the health plan he supported merely two years ago. Health Access believes his reasoning is based on faulty assumptions, and has very different numbers of the fiscal impact of Medicaid expansions in health reform on California. Beyond that, California–with its large percentage of uninsured people and low-wage workers–is likely to disproportionately benefit from the billions of federal dollars to help families and small business, and the state, afford coverage.

MEDI-CAL WAIVER STAKEHOLDER PROCESS STARTS: In this busy week, Thursday marked the first gathering of the stakeholder committee appointed to help guide the state Department of Health Care Services in its 1115 Medi-Cal federal waiver process. The renegotiation of our state’s Medi-Cal waiver with the federal government will provide challenges and opportunities regarding the Medi-Cal coverage of 7 million California children, parents, seniors, and people with disabilities. More information is at the Department of Health Care Services website.

OTHER ITEMS TO READ: The Health Access Blog has additional updates about:
* Speaker Pelosi and the House of Representatives’ take on negotiating a final health reform bill.
* Rush Limbaugh’s accidental endorsement of health reform and Hawaii’s employer mandate.
* Health Care for America Now’s marathon-themed “Let’s Finish Health Reform Right” TV ad.
* Thoughts about how health advocacy has changed and stayed the same, in the past ten years.

A REQUEST FOR THE NEW YEAR: From fighting budget cuts to fulfilling the promise of health reform, 2010 will be a very busy year. We’ll need your help, so resolve to join and contribute: Consider contributing to the Health Access Foundation!

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

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