HEALTH ACCESS ALERT

Monday, December 1, 2003

ACTION ALERT: IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED NOW TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE

CALL YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS:

OPPOSE SCHWARZENEGGER’S CUTS AND SPENDING CAP PROPOSAL

Governor Schwarzenegger is taking his campaign for spending caps and cuts statewide. His proposal would cut health, education, and other state services an additional $16-$18 billion and then only allow spending to increase from that reduced base–and only at the rate of population growth and cost of living. It would prevent any possibility of restoring the cuts in the future, and ensure additional cuts into the future.

It is not clear how cost of living would be calculated: what is clear is that cutting billions more and then using that as the starting point means that health care will be permanently underfunded.

The initial spending cut proposals of $1.9 billion include limiting enrollment in Healthy Families to the budgeted amount—without regard for the need of children for health coverage or the risk their parents face of bankruptcy if they take a child with asthma or diabetes or an absessed ear infection to an emergency room and face the sticker price for care. The 100% Campaign held a press conference this morning highlighting this inequity, where a mother whose children were on the program was scared about the prospect of not being able to provide basic care to her boys.

Health care is not the only thing on the chopping block. The initial spending cut proposals also alter Proposition 98 in a manner that cuts education and specifically target seniors and persons with disabilities through eliminating key entitlements. Nothing is immune from proposed cuts and the impact of the cap.

And there is another $14 billion or more in cuts to come.

The Governor’s proposal also allows the Governor authority to make cuts and change the law in mid-year—and it would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature within 30 days to stop such cuts. This authority would mean that the Governor could defund Healthy Families, mid-year. That he could change Medi-Cal eligibility or cut benefits. Mid-Year. That he could cut rates by 15% or even in half. Mid-year. That he could eliminate every program that provides services to immigrants, legal or undocumented. Mid-Year. And it would take a two-thirds vote of the Legislature in less than 30 days to stop these cuts.

ACTION NEEDED NOW: The deadline for action to put the spending cap on the March ballot is Thursday, Dec. 4. It is far too late to quality an initiative for the March 2004 ballot and difficult though possible to make the deadline for the November 2004 ballot. To get the spending cap in place prior to the July 1 2004 deadline for the 04-05 budget requires legislative action this week.

CONTACT ALL LEGISLATORS TO OPPOSE THE SPENDING CAP. Find out the phone and fax number of your state Assemblymembers and Senator by going to http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html.

SPECFIC LEGISLATORS TARGETED: Media stories over the weekend indicate that Schwarzenegger will spend the week campaigning in specific legislative districts to intimidate legislators into supporting his spending cap proposal and the attendant cuts. While all legislators need to be contacted, these will be

Legislators received copies of the package of initial cuts and the actual language on the spending cap proposal late on Monday November 24, allowing two working days prior to Thanksgiving plus four working days this week for review of a spending cap proposal that could have consequences for California for decades to come.

According to articles in the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times, the targeted districts include:

Senate:

Dede Alpert (San Diego)

Denise Ducheny (San Diego)

Dean Florez (Shafter/Fresno)

Mike Machado (Linden/Stockton)

Tom Torlakson (Antioch/East Contra Costa)

Assembly

Christine Kehoe (San Diego)

Juan Vargas (San Diego)

Nicole Parra (Hanford)

Barbara Mathews (Tracy/Stockton)

Joe Canciamilla (Pittsburg/East Contra Costa)

Ellen Corbett (San Leandro)

Schwarzenegger is planning rallies Tuesday in San Diego, Thursday in Bakersfield, and Friday in Tracy. These rallies are intended to demonstrate public support for the spending cap and the spending cuts.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Call your legislator and tell them you oppose caps on spending that mean cuts in health care and that you oppose health care cuts such as limiting enrollment in Healthy Families.

KEY TALKING POINTS:

You oppose the proposed cuts and the proposed spending cap.

* Health care is underfunded today. Over half of physicians refuse to take Medi-Cal because the rates are so low–and this proposal includes another 10% rate cut.

* Children can’t wait for health care: a child with asthma, diabetes, a broken arm, or even a serious ear infection can’t wait for a waiting list: they need care now. And since hospital charge sticker price for emergency care, that family can easily spend next month’s rent on an emergency room visit. Health care costs are the leading cause of homelessness among families: we were on our way to correcting that in California. This is a huge step back!

* Cutting another $14-$16 billion in spending and using that as the base for funding means that health care will be permanently underfunded! It is underfunded now–the cuts will make it worse and then we will lock in that inadequate funding.

* Giving the Governor authority to make unlimited mid-year cuts, including changing the law, is too much power for any governor. The election was for a governor; it was not a coronation for a king.

* A spending cap is a common sense idea only if spending is adequate now. Otherwise it is like putting a skinny person on a weight-loss diet: bad for their health!

ALSO: CALL RADIO STATIONS: Call your local talk radio station and tell them that you support kids having health insurance! People who don’t make enough to afford health insurance should get it one way or another. Everybody should get the health care they need when they really need it–and they should not face bankruptcy or homelessness to get care.



Anthony E. Wright

Health Access

1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814

Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921

awright@health-access.org

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

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