HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE

Monday, March 24, 2003

STATE AND FEDERAL UPDATE ON HEALTH BUDGET

* SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE REVERSES REALIGNMENT: The Senate Budget

Subcommittee #3 on Health, chaired by Senator Wes Chesbro, voted 4-0 to

reverse the Governor’s “realignment” proposal to shift funding of 15% of the

state’s Medi-Cal costs to county governments, as well as the shift of

long-term care costs. Many groups, including local government

representatives and advocates of the uninsured were opposed to the proposed

shift. The committee did indicate that “overall restructuring/realignment

discussions” were just beginning.

* SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE CONSIDERS CUTS: In addition to realignment, the

Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health listened to extensive testimony on the

whole range of proposed Medi-Cal cuts on Monday afternoon. A full range of

constituent and provider advocates cited their opposition to the various

cuts to Medi-Cal eligibility, retention, benefits, and provider rates.

Advocates for the uninsured testifying included Health Access California,

Western Center on Law and Poverty, Congress of California Seniors, CA

Immigrant Welfare Collaborative, National Council of La Raza, CA Primary

Care Association, CA Association of Public Hospitals, Children’s Defense

Fund and 100% Campaign, Protection & Advocacy, CA Catholic Conference, Older

Women’s League and Gray Panthers, and others, including many organizations

representing counties and providers. While Senator Chesbro did express his

“serious concerns” as chair of the committee, no action was taken on the

cuts at this time. The committee’s analysis, which comprehensively reviews

the issues discussed, can be downloaded at

http://www.senate.ca.gov/ftp/SEN/COMMITTEE/STANDING/BFR/_home/Agendas.htp#3

* ATTACHED is a one-page Health Access flyer that describes the impact of

the proposed Medi-Cal cuts, including the number of people who will be

denied needed care, and the economic impact as well.

* MEDI-CAL LOBBY DAY: On Wednesday, March 26th, an informal grouping of a

dozen advocacy organizations will be holding a Sacramento-based lobby day to

educate legislative staffers about the impact of the Medi-Cal cuts. This is

the second of a series of lobby days to explain the specifics of the

Medi-Cal budget cuts to a broad number of legislative offices, and is

sponsored by California Immigrant Welfare Collaborative, National Council of

La Raza, Health Access California, California Primary Care Association,

MALDEF, and others. Other advocates for the uninsured are invited to join us

in this education effort for the day; please contact: Anthony Wright, at

awright@health-access.org, or 916-442-2308.

* FEDERAL FIGHT FOR FUNDS: The federal budget picture provides possibilities

for needed help and additional cuts.

* The House of Representatives passed a budget resolution on March 20th

that included severe cuts to health care($93 billion over 10 years from

Medicaid and $2 billion from SCHIP). The cuts are due to the inclusion of

President Bush’s huge, $726 billion tax cut package. The Senate is expected

to vote on Wednesday on a budget resolution that calls for a $626 billion

tax cut, despite unmet health care needs and growing projected deficits. The

Senate is not contemplating the health cuts, but the two houses must

reconcile their budgets in the next month or so. To oppose the proposed

federal tax cut that would devastate health and other vital services, get

information and sign up at the Coalition website at www.fairtaxes4all.org

* Also late last week, the Senate passed the

Rockefeller-Collins-Nelson-Smith resolution with a overwhelming vote of

80-19, which would direct signficant aid to states, including half or more

for Medicaid matching funds. While this “Sense of the Senate” resolution is

not binding, it provides some hope for immediate federal help in

California’s budget crisis. More information to come.



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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