For immediate release: Wednesday, January 10, 2017
For more information, contact:
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
GOVERNOR’S 2018-19 CALIFORNIA BUDGET CONTINUES COMMITMENT TO MEDI-CAL, BUT MORE INVESTMENTS AND IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED
* Governor Brown’s Last January Budget Proposal Continues California’s Commitement to Implement and Improve the ACA, Which Has Yielded the Biggest Drop of the Uninsured Rate to Below 7%. Can California Finish the Job?
* Health Advocates Urge Legislature to Continue Needed Coverage Expansions, including Medi-Cal for Undocumented Immigrants, and Additional Affordability Assistance in Covered California
* Big Need in #CABudget for Investments in Medi-Cal: Restoring Benefits Cut in Great Recession, Covering Aged and Disabled Up to 138% of Poverty Like All Other Adults; Oversight on Provider Rate Increases to Ensure Access and Quality.
* Biggest State Budget Questions Are Federal, From Tax Impacts, Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Clinic Funding, Congressional Proposals to Cut and Cap Medicaid, Which Would Means Significantly Slashing of Medi-Cal by Tens of Billions of Dollars a Year
SACRAMENTO, CA – California Governor Jerry Brown released his 2018-19 proposed State Budget today, which includes $131.7 billion in general fund spending,continuing California’s commitments to implementing and improving the Affordable Care Act.
Health advocates are urging that the budget invest in covering the remaining uninsured, take new steps toward universal care and make key restorations and investments in Medi-Cal.
“Governor Brown and California should be proud of the progress we have made reducing our uninsured rate and providing more health and financial security for California families, and this budget should continue to take steps forward to finish the job, while fighting off Congressional cuts and caps that would take us backward.” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.
FINISHING THE JOB ON EXPANDING COVERAGE: “While California has made historic progress with the largest drop of the uninsured rate of all fifty states, too many Californians go uninsured, and still live sicker, die younger, and are one emergency from financial ruin. We can and should continue to expand Medi-Cal to cover all Californians regardless of immigration status; In our high cost-of-living state, we should also improve affordability assistance in Covered California. With comparatively modest investments, California can finish the job we started with the ACA and previous budgets to get to the universal coverage. Expanding coverage helps the health and financial security of not just the individual and family covered, but the community as a whole. Our health system is stronger when everyone is included.” said Wright.
RESTORATIONS AND INVESTMENTS: “California should continue to make needed restorations and investments in Medi-Cal, a core pillar for the health system on which we all rely. We should close coverage gaps, in particular by raising the income eligibility line for the aged, blind and disabled to match the rest of the population. While we have restored vision and dental coverage, California should restore the other half-dozen benefits eliminated during the Great Recession, which include podiatry and speech therapy. The current surplus was created based on the cuts made most notably to health and human services, and as such should go to restoring benefits to our most vulnerable who have gone without for nearly a decade,” said Wright. “We appreciate the additional tobacco tax money going to increase provider rates in Medi-Cal, but believe more should go to improve Medi-Cal, paired with accountability to ensure that patients are getting the access and quality they deserve.”
FEDERAL QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS: “We share the Governor’s concern, if not alarm, about whether Congress will fulfill the federal government’s commitments to California. Congress needs to restore funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and for community clinics. Key GOP leaders are suggesting massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, in order to pay for a tax bill that was already disproportionately devastating to California. To protect our health care, and the entire California budget in general, we need our Republican Congressional delegation to represent their constituents in California,” said Wright. “We need to protect Medicaid at the federal level and prioritize and invest in our state version, Medi-Cal, which covers over 14 million Californians, including over a third of the state, half of all children, and two-thirds of nursing home residents.”