HEALTH ACCESS ALERT

Friday, May 23rd, 2003

* BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEES RESTORE HEALTH CUTS, FOR THE MOMENT

* VICTORY ON FEDERAL MEDICAID RELIEF

* UPCOMING ACTIONS: TOWN HALL MEETINGS, LEGISLATIVE VISITS

BUDGET SUBCOMMITTEES WORK TO RESTORE HEALTH CUTS… FOR THE MOMENT

In the last two days, the Assembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees on Health, respectively chaired by Assemblywoman Judy Chu and Senator Wes Chesbro, voted to restore most of the Medi-Cal cuts proposed in the Governor’s May Revise. In making these motions, Senator Chesbro cautioned emphatically that “everything is still on the table” until “other significant decisions” are made. Such decisions include, of course, the question on raising revenues.

ATTACHED is an UPDATED SCORECARD of the budget cuts. It details the actions of both budget subcommittees on each of the proposed cuts. Cuts rejected included:

* the elimination of many “optional” benefits, including dental care and medical supplies;

* the 15% reduction in provider rates, including doctors and nursing homes, and

* the elimination of free Medi-Cal for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

These proposed budgets then go to the full Budget Committees of the Senate and Assembly in the next week.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PASSES STATE FISCAL RELIEF.

Under the new budget plan agreed to in the U.S. Congress in the last few days, California is expected to receive $2.443.7 billion in state fiscal relief, including $1,291.9 in additional Medicaid matching funds, and $1,151.8 in grants to state and local governments.

This total package of $20 billion nationally for state fiscal relief is a major victory for the Senate, given that neither President Bush nor the House included aid to struggling states in their initial budgets. The bad news is that this is part of a budget that includes massive tax cuts that will undoubtedly force cuts to health and other vital services in future years.

Specific key points about the aid, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

* Each state would receive a 2.95 percentage point increase in its federal Medicaid matching rate, after applying the “hold harmless” provisions (which would ignore that a state’s rate was recently reduced). The aid is effective for the last two quarters of FFY 2003 and the first three quarters of FFY 2004 (April 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004).

· The matching rate increase would not apply to DSH payments, Medicaid payments already receiving an enhanced matching rate, and other federal programs where federal payments are calculated based on the federal Medicaid matching rate.

· States may not reduce Medicaid eligibility levels below the levels effective as of September 2, 2003 in order to receive the across-the-board matching rate increase during the effective period. If a state does reduce eligibility levels, it can receive the across-the-board matching rate increase in the first calendar quarter in which it reinstates eligibility levels effective as of September 2, 2003.

PICO TOWN HALL MEETINGS

The Pacific Institute for Community Organization (PICO) California Project is preparing for 20 town hall meetings on the state budget to be held over the weekend of June 8th. Over 8,000 PICO members are expected to attend. Also attending will be school superintendents, local health clinic directors and other community groups. These meetings will take place in both Republican and Democratic districts.

In each meeting, community leaders will discuss how the proposed budget cuts will affect that particular community and will urge their legislators to make no more cuts in health, education and affordable housing. Leaders will ask the legislators to commit to return to their local districts, after the budget has passed, to explain how their vote will affect their local communities. ATTACHED is an updated chart that lists the meeting locations and legislators whom have been invited. If your organization would like to participate, please contact the staffperson listed on the chart.

LEGISLATIVE VISITS

Health Access California, California Church Impact, Congress of California Seniors, and Working Assets have set up a couple dozen meetings with legislative offices, to urge the need for revenues to prevent severe cuts in health and other vital services.

While many of our meetings are full to capacity, we are still looking for community leaders, concerned citizens, and others to join these coalition delegations in the key districts listed below. If you are interested in attending a meeting with your legislator, and he or she is listed below, please sign up at: http://www.workingassets.com/realsolution3

Offices of Assemblyman Abel Maldonado: Morning of Friday, June 6, San Luis Obispo

Offices of Assemblyman Dave Cogdill: Morning of Tuesday, June 10, Modesto

Offices of Assemblyman George Nakano: Morning of Friday, June 6, Torrance

Offices of Assemblyman Guy S. Houston: Morning of Friday, June 6, Livermore

Offices of Assemblyman John A. Dutra: Morning of Friday, June 6, Fremont

Offices of Assemblyman John Campbell: Morning of Friday, June 6, Irvine

Offices of Assemblyman Joseph Canciamilla: Afternoon of Friday, June 6, Martinez

Offices of Assemblyman Mark Wyland: Morning of Friday, June 6, Vista

Offices of Assemblyman Rick Keene: Morning of Friday, June 6, Chico

Offices of Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia: Morning of Friday, June 6, Cathedral City

Offices of Assemblywoman Lois Wolk: Morning of Friday, June 6, Vacaville

Offices of Senator Bill Morrow: Afternoon of Friday, June 6, Carlsbad

Offices of Senator Bruce McPherson: Afternoon of Friday, June 6, Salinas

Offices of Senator Charles Poochigian: Morning of Friday, June 6, Fresno

Offices of Senator James Brulte: Afternoon of Friday, June 6, Rancho Cucamonga

Offices of Senator Richard Ackerman: Afternoon of Friday, June 6, Tustin

Offices of Senator Tom Torlakson: Morning of Friday, June 6, Concord

If you know people, organization members, friends, staff colleagues, relatives, neighbors, or others who would be interested in meeting with their legislator on this important issue, please direct them to the website, at http://www.workingassets.com/realsolution3.



Anthony E. Wright

Executive Director

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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