HEALTH ACCESS ALERT

Tuesday, May 13th, 2003

* May Revise Upcoming; Schedule of Budget Activities

* Next Steps for Access Expansion Bills in CA Senate

* Federal Budget in U.S Senate; Phone Calls Needed

MAY REVISE UPCOMING

Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 14th, around noon, Governor Davis will announce the “May Revision” of the 2003-04 state budget, based on new fiscal information, and will include modified proposals, as well as possible additional proposed cuts in health and other vital services. Health Access will report on the status of proposals to cut Medi-Cal and other health care programs.

In anticipation, here’s a brief calendar of what comes next:

* In late May, the Subcommittees will quickly make decisions, which will then go to the full Budget Committees, respectively chaired by Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza and Senator Wes Chesbro.

* As early as the beginning of June, the framework of a possible budget package could be set. Either way, negotiations continue between the Governor and leadership of both houses and both parties (“the Big Five.”)

* In early June, the budgets of the two houses are scheduled to go to a Budget Conference Committee to be reconciled. The Budget Conference Committee can make additional cuts or changes.

* Before the start of the new fiscal year July 1st, a final budget is scheduled to pass both houses and be sent to Governor for signature. The Governor has the ability to veto budget items.

* Without a budget passed and signed, the process may continue in July and beyond. The passage of the budget is often late, and last year took two additional months to finalize. However, advocates should be ready for on-time passage, and be prepared for a more drawn-out process.

ATTACHED from the California Budget Project is a recently released Budget Brief, entitled “Governor’s Proposed Medi-Cal Reductions Would Harm Enrollees, Providers, and Local Economies.” Of particular note and usefulness is the attached chart that shows the *county-by-county* impact of selected Medi-Cal reductions, by number of individual affected, and by loss of funds. This is also available at the CBP website, at http://www.cbp.org/. Also at their web site, check out “The 2003-04 Budget Deficit: Where Are We Today?” which has useful charts comparing the Governor’s January budget with the Assembly Republican and Senate Republican budget plans.

ACCESS EXPANSION BILLS GO TO APPROPRIATIONS

Two major health access expansion bills, SB 2 (Burton/Speier) and SB 921 (Kuehl), are expected to be “placed on suspense” in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The deadline for these bills be voted out of the committee is Friday, May 30th. These bills will then need to be passed out of the Senate by Friday, June 6th. If either bill fails to pass the Senate by June 6th, it is technically not available to proceed until January 2004, and must pass the Senate by January 31st, 2004 or it dies.

The members of the Senate Appropriations Committee include:

Senator Dede Alpert (Chair) [D-San Diego]
Senator Jim Battin (Vice-Chair) [R-La Quinta/Palm Desert/Riverside]
Senator Samuel Aanestad [R-Grass Valley/Nevada City/Chico/Redding]
Senator Roy Ashburn [R-Bakersfield]
Senator Debra Bowen [D-Marina Del Rey/Redondo Beach/Los Angeles]
Senator John Burton [D-San Francisco/San Rafael]
Senator Martha Escutia [D-Whittier/Norwalk/Los Angeles]
Senator Ross Johnson [R-Irvine/Orange County]
Senator Betty Karnette [D-Long Beach/Los Angeles]
Senator Michael Machado [D-Linden/Sacramento/Davis/Stockton]
Senator Kevin Murray [D-Los Angeles/Culver City]
Senator Charles Poochigian [R-Fresno/Ripon/Modesto]
Senator Jackie Speier [D-San Francisco/San Mateo]

Both bills will require 21 votes to pass the full Senate. (SB 2 is financed through a fee structure, and is a majority-vote bill. While SB 921 would typically–and will ultimately–require a two-thirds vote, the bill currently does not include its financing package, and so simply needs a majority vote to move forward.)

Democratic Senators Chesbro, Ortiz, Speier, Perata, Figueroa, Florez, Alarcon, Kuehl, Romero, Vincent, Escutia, and Soto have already voted for both bills when the Senate Health Committee and/or the Senate Insurance Committee considered them in the past few weeks. (Also, Democratic Senators Scott and Vasconcellos voted for SB 2, and abstained on SB 921.) Since many of the remaining Democratic Senators are on the Senate Appropriations Committee, only four would not have had the opportunity to vote on these bills before a possible Senate floor vote:

Senator Gil Cedillo [D-Los Angeles]
Senator Tom Torlakson [D-Antioch/Concord/Contra Costa County]
Senator Byron Sher [D-Stanford/Palo Alto/San Jose]
Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny [D-San Diego/Chula Vista/El Centro/Coachella]

Health advocates should urge Senators to support both SB 2 and SB 921 in moving out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and past the full Senate. All legislators can be addressed at the State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 94248. Other contact information is available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/. The web pages and more detailed information on Senators can be reached more directly at http://www.sen.ca.gov/~newsen/senators/senators.htp

FEDERAL ACTION ALERT ON BUDGET, TAXES, STATE FISCAL RELIEF:

The U.S. Senate is currently discussing the federal budget, and in particular key fiscal issues. Two key issues are whether to include $20 billion in fiscal aid to states (which could help prevent many of the proposed cuts to health and other vital services), and whether to pass a massive tax cut (which would starve resources for state aid, Medicare, Medicaid, and other vital programs, now and into the future).

ATTACHED is a flyer asking people to call their Senators on WEDNESDAY, MAY 14th, and offering the use of a *toll-free* number, 1-888-280-6279. Please call U.S. Senators this week and:

* Urge them to vote against any of the tax cut proposals.

* Also, (in the same or a different call) ask them to support the Collins State Fiscal Relief Amendment to the Tax Reconciliation bill.



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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