CA Senate Committee Questions Massive State Budget Cuts To Health Care In A Pandemic

For Immediate Release: Sunday, May 24, 2020

Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California,, 916-532-2128 (cell)
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California,, 916-870-4782 (cell)


  • In CA Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health slated for today (Sunday), Senators plan to question and put off votes on major cuts to health coverage and care including several cuts that would deny coverage for tens of thousands of low-income seniors, and other cuts to eliminate Medi-Cal benefits and limit access to patient care to clinics and providers, jeopardizing care for millions of Californians.
  • Senators are set to vote to make cuts to already-allocated dollars for affordability assistance in Covered California. While the state subsidies would continue, less money would be available to help Californians afford coverage during a pandemic.
  • Advocates are opposing all these health cuts in the middle of this public health emergency, cuts which would  mark a significant setback in state’s efforts to contain coronavirus, improve public health, and get our economy going again.

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health today will review the major health cuts proposed in Governor Gavin Newsom’s May Revision of the California State Budget. Governor Newsom’s budget attempts to address an estimated $54 billion state deficit with deep cuts to the state budget–including to health and human services, particularly cruel and counterproductive proposals in the face of a public health crisis.

Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, opposes these cuts, and has published new fact sheets detailing the impacts of the cuts.

“The proposed budget will cut access to care for millions of Californians—whether those losing coverage options, benefits, or access to doctors, clinics and other providers,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, a veteran of past state budget crises during the Great Recession and before. “It’s never a good time to cut access to health care, but it’s cruel and counterproductive during a pandemic. This COVIC19 crisis is when we need to invest in our health care system to help us emerge from this public health and economic emergency. We urge California legislators to reject these cuts to the health care safety net millions rely on, or else our communities will suffer even further health and economic consequences.”

HEALTH COVERAGE COMMITMENTS UNDONE, PARTICULARLY FOR SENIORS: “California can’t cut coverage and care to seniors, especially during a pandemic, and especially when COVID19 is particularly preying on this population,” said Wright. “Our seniors need care, not cuts. The budget proposes to deny or discourage tens of thousands of low-income seniors from signing up from the coverage they need, especially now. This is not the time to lower the income eligibility for seniors and people with disabilities in Medi-Cal, or to threaten those who sign up for coverage with the loss of the family home for their loved ones. This is exactly the wrong time to cut alternatives to nursing homes, when such facilities account for so many of the COVID-19 deaths. The California Legislature must make better budget choices than leaving seniors uninsured and exposed to this pandemic.”

COUNTERPRODUCTIVE CUTS TO CARE: “The proposed cuts will make it harder for many Californians to get needed primary and preventive care, to manage conditions, to get tested and treated for COVID-19, and otherwise get needed follow-up care,” said Wright. “While some of the worst of these could be ‘triggered off’ with federal assistance, we urge our legislative leaders to reject these cuts out of hand so that these populations do not need to worry about the potential of losing access to care and benefits in the middle of a pandemic.”

  • Cuts to Medi-Cal Benefits: “In absence of federal help, proposed cuts will eliminate many medically necessary benefits to millions of Californians with Medi-Cal coverage, from hearing aids to vision to podiatry to physical and speech therapy, and reduce dental services significantly. These cuts are short-sighted and are counterproductive to our economic and public health goals in this crisis,” said Wright
  • Cuts to Clinics and Other Providers: “The ‘trigger’ elimination of supplemental and value based payments to clinics and other providers will reduce access to care for many California patients, and imperil key health care capacity that we all rely on,” continued Wright.  “A public health emergency created this crisis, and maintaining investments in health care is part of the solution to get out of this crisis.”

CUTS TO COVERED CALIFORNIA AFFORDABILITY ASSISTANCE: “We are disappointed that the Legislature may approve proposed cuts to the already-allocated to affordability assistance in Covered California when millions have lost employer-based coverage and facing sticker shock in seeking insurance as individuals. We need to provide more help to Californians to connect with coverage and care, not less,” said Wright.

More on the Health Impacts of Proposed Cuts

Learn more about Californians’ coverage options and protections here: