HEALTH ACCESS ALERT

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

THREE WAYS TO HELP SAVE MEDI-CAL

* Legislative Visits (dozens scheduled; simply join up at web site & tell others)

* Letters-to-the-Editor (samples attached)

* Support Upper Tax Brackets to Restore Medi-Cal (sign-on sheet attached, press conf. scheduled)

Here in Sacramento, budget subcommittees are now meeting to consider the Governor’s May Revision of the budget. However, the fate of the proposed Medi-Cal cuts will now depend on the public activity, and the will to raise the revenues needed to prevent such cuts. Please help on these three specific actions.

* JOIN SCHEDULED LEGISLATIVE VISITS: NEED PARTICIPANTS TO URGE REVENUES TO RESTORE CUTS

Meetings with over two dozen key legislators have been scheduled in the first week of June to urge them to support the revenues needed to restore cuts to health care and other vital services. To find out about and SIGN UP TO ATTEND A LOCAL MEETING WITH YOUR LEGISLATOR, visit:

http://www.workingassets.com/realsolution3

As you know, proposals to balance the state’s $38 billion deficit by spending cuts alone will cripple public schools, leave thousands of working families without health care and slash aid to the elderly and blind. Governor Davis has proposed major cuts to services and an increase in revenues, including restoring the top tax brackets on the highest income earners and the vehicle license fee. Only a tax increase larger as the Governor’s plan will protect essential public services. In order to take the courageous step to pass these increases, California legislators need to hear from their own constituents that they support a real solution to the state’s fiscal crisis.

Working Assets, Health Access California, California Church Impact, and the Congress of California Seniors are teaming up to provide both community leaders and constituents with the opportunity to discuss this vital issue with your legislator or his/her district director. We’ve already scheduled the visit, but we are looking for more constituents and community leaders to join the delegation. To find out about and sign up to attend a local meeting with your legislator, visit: http://www.workingassets.com/realsolution3

WE ARE ALSO LOOKING FOR KEY PEOPLE TO HELP LEAD THESE DELEGATIONS. It would be great to have those who can talk about how these budget cuts affect their work, as well as people just to bring the basic message. These meetings are intended to be respectful discussions, not rallies or demonstrations. The tone of the discussion should be constructive and not adversarial. If the Senator or Assemblymember is not available, we will meet with senior staff. Gaining a staff ally is also important.

INVITE OTHERS TO VISIT THEIR LEGISLATOR. Do you have like-minded organization members, colleagues, staffers, friends, and/or neighbors who would be interested in attending a local meeting with a legislator? Visit http://www.workingassets.com/tellfriendsrealsolution to send a quick message about this exciting opportunity. This is a great way to involve your members in a budget activity.

* SEND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR DECRYING THE MEDI-CAL CUTS, URGING REVENUES

The pundits say that the most read part of any newspaper is the letters to the editor, and legislators eager to sense the pulse of their community are religious readers themselves. We urge all advocates for the uninsured to send just one letter to the editor in the two weeks. (If just a fraction of the people getting this alert do so, that could generate over a hundred published letters.)

SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR of your local newspaper, whether it is a small-town weekly or a major daily. While we encourage you to write your own, ATTACHED are some sample letters to help you get started. Some tips include:

* Make it short. Most papers restrict letters to 150 words.

* Make only a few key points concisely. For example: The Medi-Cal cuts would have severe impacts. We need to prevent such cuts by raising revenues. There’s no need to get more complicated than that.

* You are more likely to be published if you craft it to respond to a recently-run article. With the recent announcement of the May Revision, and ongoing coverage of the budget crisis, there are ample articles that can be responded to with a short letter.

* SIGN-ON TO SUPPORT FULL RESTORATION OF THE UPPER TAX BRACKETS TO RESTORE MEDI-CAL CUTS

Health Access is seeking organizations to support a full restoration of the upper tax brackets to provide the revenues needed to prevent the Medi-Cal cuts. We have tentatively scheduled a press conference for Monday, June 2nd at 10am in Sacramento for organizations to urge the restoration of Medi-Cal by restoring the upper tax brackets. ATTACHED is a sign-on sheet. WE NEED SIGN-ONS ASAP for this upcoming press event with legislators.

THE CUTS TO PREVENT: While the Governor’s May Revise would restore health in some key areas, it still proposes to go ahead by the vast majority of cuts proposed, totalling $1.15 billion, which would:

* Impose a requirement for low-income working parents to file quarterly status reports, for the express purpose of having hundreds of thousands fall off Medi-Cal coverage;

* Impose costs onto tens of thousands of very low-income seniors and people with disabilities, by reducing eligibility for no-cost Medi-Cal.

* Eliminate a range of 14 medically necessary benefits for around 3 million parents, seniors, and people with disabilities on Medi-Cal, including medical supplies, dental, vision, medical equipment, hearing aids, rehab therapy, and others.

* Reduce Medi-Cal provider rates by 15%, which would lead some doctors, nursing homes, and health providers to not provide care to the 6.5 million Californians on Medi-Cal.

THE REVENUES PROPOSED: The Governor’s May Revise includes a revenue package that includes a half-cent sales tax, creation of a 10.3 percent upper tax bracket, and 23-40 cent tobacco tax, raising around $4 billion. (It also expects the vehicle license fee to be restored, raising another $4 billion for a total $8 billion.) Without these revenues, even steeper cuts would need to be made.

RESTORING THE TAX CUTS MADE IN THE GOOD TIMES: In order to restore the Medi-Cal cuts listed, we need to raise revenues above the Governor’s May Revise proposal. In the January budget, the Governor actually proposed a full restoration of both the 10% and 11% tax brackets on high-income earners. Governor Pete Wilson signed a measure adding the 10% and 11% tax brackets in 1991 when faced with a similar budget crisis. These were repealed during financially prosperous times of the 1990s. The impact would be felt on just the top 2.4% of California taxpayers, who are disproportionately benefitting from the Bush tax cuts, and would be able to deduct these increase on their federal taxes. The proposal would:

* Restore a 10% tax rate on single taxpayers with taxable incomes (after deductions) over $130,000 a year, or married taxpayers over $260,000.

* Restore a 11% tax rate on single taxpayers with taxable incomes (after deductions) over $260,000 a year, or married taxpayers over $520,000.

RESTORING MEDI-CAL BY RESTORING THE UPPER TAX BRACKETS: Raising the upper tax bracket would raise $2.7 billion, about a billion dollars more than the Governor’s May proposal of adding just a 10.3 percent bracket. A billion dollars is approximately the amount needed to restore the pending Medi-Cal cuts. And unlike additional “deficit financing” and other borrowing efforts, this would be ongoing revenues that could help prevent such cuts in the future.

PRESS CONFERENCE: Health Access and other organizations have tentatively scheduled a press conference for MONDAY, JUNE 2ND, at 10:00AM. We hope to have over 50 organizations signed onto this effort, and 25 organizations present, standing alongside key legislators who oppose the Medi-Cal cuts and support the needed revenues.

PLEASE SIGN-ON to the ATTACHED statement ASAP, and encourage other organizations to sign-on as well, IN THE NEXT WEEK. You can E-MAIL your SIGN-ON to Louise Jones at Health Access, at ljones@health-access.org.

On the attached form, organizations can sign onto a broader statement in support of eliminating the Manufacturers Investment Tax Credit, which would generate about $400 million more for health and other vital programs. For more information, check out the brief by the California Budget Project at http://www.cbp.org/2003/bb030404mic.pdf. Organizations can also check off to sign onto an additional statement opposing spending freezes and other such limits that would force significant health cuts in future years. If your organization does not have policy on either of these issues, then simply send back the form with just the basic statement, which is all we need for the upcoming press conference.

The statement reads as follows:

“We support revenues to prevent devastating cuts to health and other vital services. Our organizations support, at a minimum, the revenue package in the Governor’s May Revise Budget package, including the increase in the sales tax and tobacco tax, as well as the full restoration of the upper tax brackets* to restore the proposed cuts in Medi-Cal.

“Our organizations oppose these severe cuts in Medi-Cal that would deny Californians basic health coverage, benefits, and access to providers. Additional revenues from the full restoration of the 10% and 11% tax brackets would provide over a billion dollars needed to restore the proposed Medi-Cal cuts, now and into the future.”

___ YES! We give permission for our organization’s name to be used in materials for the press, policymakers, and the public as a supporter of the statement above.

Organization:

Authorized Signatory:

Contact Person:

Title:

Address:

Phone:

E-mail:



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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