For immediate release: Friday, January 5, 2017
For more information, contact:
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
AS GOVERNOR PREPARES HIS 2018-19 CALIFORNIA BUDGET, HEALTH ADVOCATES URGE CONTINUED STEPS TO UNIVERSAL COVERAGE, ADDITIONAL RESTORATIONS AND INVESTMENTS IN MEDI-CAL
* Governor Brown to Release His 2018-19 Proposed Budget on Wednesday
* Health Advocates Urge Budget 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.
* If ACA & Medicaid Intact, California Can Make Progress—But CHIP & Clinic Funding Uncertainty & Congressional Budget Proposals Loom Large, Threatening to Cut & Cap Medi-Cal, Requiring Tens of Billions in Catastrophic Cuts
SACRAMENTO, CA – In preparation for Wednesday, when California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to release his 2018-19 Budget, 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.
“While California has made historic progress with the largest drop of the uninsured rate of all fifty states, the work is not done. Even with our progress, 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.” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care advocacy coalition. “With comparatively modest investments, California could get to the near-universal coverage rate of most European nations. 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.”
“California should also continue to make 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 to raise the income eligibility line for the aged and disability 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, from podiatry to speech therapy. The current surplus was created based on the cuts made most notably to health and human services, which has hurt poor people disproportionately,” said Wright. “We continue to support funds going to increase provider rates in Medi-Cal, but believe it must be paired with accountability that patients are getting the access and quality they deserve.”
“The biggest question mark over the state budget is 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 and continue our basic commitments to key health programs.” said Wright. “We need to continue to protect Medicaid at the federal level and prioritize and invest in our state version, Medi-Cal, that covers over 14 million Californians, including over a third of the state, half of all children, and two-thirds of any nursing home residents.”