Yesterday California State Senate Budget Committee adopted their 2020-2021 budget proposal which largely rejects the severe health care cuts in Governor Newsom’s May Revise. The Senate’s budget plan keeps commitments in Medi-Cal that will ensure millions will continue to access coverage and benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for California’s seniors. The Senate proposal would reject cuts that would have denied coverage to tens of thousands of seniors. The Senate also rejected attempts to re-institute the “senior penalty,” estate recovery, and other eligibility changes.
The proposal also includes the expansion of Medi-Cal to all seniors, regardless of immigration status, but delayed to an implementation date of January 1, 2022. It also preserves medically necessary benefits for millions of adults with Medi-Cal coverage, including programs and services which help keep seniors and adults with disabilities independent and in their own homes and out of institutionalized care where COVID-19 deaths have been more prevalent.
Health Access released its 2020 Budget Scorecard to track health care items in the various state budget proposals, available here: http://www.health-access.org/2020BudgetScorecard
We’re glad the Senate rejected these health cuts to care and coverage, especially those that disproportionately harm our seniors during a public health crisis that is most severe for this community. We urge the full Legislature and Governor to adopt a budget that protects the health of our families and communities by rejecting these devastating cuts to our health care system during the COVID-19 crisis.
Cuts to our health care system and safety net are not just cruel but counterproductive in helping us get out of the economic and public health crisis we are facing.
As the new Health Access Budget Scorecard shows, the Senate did make some cuts, including reducing the allocation for affordability assistance in Covered California, which could have been used to lower premiums for the growing number of people purchasing health care as individuals during the economic crisis.
The millions of Californians who have lost their jobs and coverage recently should be better protected from the sticker shock of high premiums when having to buy coverage as an individual. In the context of this coronavirus, we need to invest more, not less, to connect more Californians with coverage and care.
We appreciate the Senate maintaining the goal of Medi-Cal expansion, but undocumented seniors can’t wait another year and a half for coverage. Now more than ever, we must be expanding access to affordable health care, not cutting or delaying coverage.
As active as we have been in advocating for necessary federal funds, we recognize that even with that help California will need new revenue to prevent these cuts to health, education, and other vital services. The Legislature needs to consider tax and other revenues necessary to avoid cuts to programs and services our communities depend on more than even in this pandemic.
More on the Health Impacts of Proposed Cuts