CA Senate Largely Rejects Severe Health Care Cuts in Governor’s Budget

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 28, 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)


  • Today the CA Senate Budget Committee voted to reject some of the worst cuts proposed in Governor Newsom’s May Revise, particularly for seniors and people with disabilities, who are most at risk during COVID-19 pandemic
  • Senate Budget proposal keeps commitments in Medi-Cal to end the “senior penalty” and keep already-approved eligibility for tens of thousands of people with disabilities, maintain vital benefits for millions, and otherwise keep access by continuing payments to providers.
  • The Senate proposal does delay coverage for undocumented seniors until 2022, and reduce the allocations for affordability assistance in Covered CA.
  • Health Access releases Budget Scorecard which tracks the various health care cuts as negotiations continue with the Assembly and Governor. Health Access seeks better budget solutions, including federal funds and new taxes and revenues. 

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today the California State Senate Budget Committee met to adopt their 2020-2021 budget proposal which largely rejects the severe health care cuts in Governor Newsom’s May Revise. The Senate’s budget plan would keep 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 rejected attempts to reinstitute 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:

“We are glad the Senate reject 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,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “We urge the full Legislature and Governor can adopt a budget that protects the health of our families and communities by rejecting devastating cuts to our health care system in the context of 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.”

CUTS MADE: 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 context, we need to invest more, not less, to connect more Californians with coverage and care,” said Wright. “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.”

REVENUES NEEDED: “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,” said Wright.

More on the Health Impacts of Proposed Cuts

Learn more about Californians’ coverage options and protections here: