CA Legislature Agrees to Reject Severe Health Care Cuts in Governor’s Budget

Today, leaders of the California State Legislature announced a joint agreement on the state budget, which would largely reject severe cuts to health care and other vital services that were proposed in Governor Newsom's May Revise.
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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 3, 2020

CONTACT:
Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128 (cell)
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

CA LEGISLATURE AGREES TO REJECT SEVERE HEALTH CARE CUTS IN GOVERNOR’S BUDGET

Federal Funds and New State Revenues and Taxes Needed to Sustainably Prevent Cuts to Health and Other Vital Services

  • Today California Assembly and Senate leaders announced a joint agreement on a state budget, setting up negotiations with Governor Newsom, whose May Revise proposals included cruel and counterproductive cuts, particularly for seniors and people with disabilities, who are most at risk during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Legislative Budget proposal keeps commitments in Medi-Cal to cover tens of thousands of low-income seniors and people with disabilities, maintain vital benefits for millions, and otherwise keep access to care and payments to providers.
  • The Legislative Budget proposal does include some cuts in health care, including delaying coverage for undocumented seniors until 2022, and reduce the allocations for affordability assistance in Covered CA.
  • Health Access is constantly updating our Budget Scorecard which tracks the specific health care cuts as negotiations continue with the Governor. Health Access seeks better budget solutions, including federal funds and new taxes and revenues. 

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, leaders of the California State Legislature announced a joint agreement on the state budget, which would largely reject severe cuts to health care and other vital services that were proposed in Governor Newsom’s May Revise. If the Governor adopts the Legislature’s budget, it would rely on federal funds to help 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 and people with disabilities.

The Legislative proposal rejects the Governor’s proposed May Revise cuts to deny coverage to tens of thousands of low-income seniors, rejected proposals to reinstitute the “senior penalty,” estate recovery, and other eligibility changes approved in the past several years. The proposal does delay for one year, to January 2022, the expansion of Medi-Cal to all income-eligible seniors, regardless of immigration status. Of particular note, the Legislative budget proposal also preserves medically necessary benefits for millions of adults with Medi-Cal coverage, including vision, audiology, podiatry, and some dental, and programs and services, like Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) and Multipurpose Senior Services Programs (MSSP) 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.

As we get more information, Health Access is updating its 2020 Budget Scorecard to track specific health care items in the various state budget proposals.

OVERALL BUDGET AGREEMENT: “No legislator wants to vote for a budget that disproportionately denies care and coverage to our seniors during a public health pandemic that has been preying on this population. As we head into final budget negotiations, we are glad legislative leaders are fighting to prevent the worst of the cuts to health and other vital services,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “California will ultimately need both federal funds and additional revenues to sustainably stop steep cuts to health care and coverage. Our California legislators have appropriately prioritized protecting our health care system and safety net from cuts that are cruel but counterproductive in helping us get out of this economic and public health crisis. We now need them to raise the revenue to make these health services sustainable.”

CUTS MADE: As the Health Access Budget Scorecard shows, the Legislative proposal does make some cuts, including delaying a proposed expansion of Medi-Cal, and reducing the allocation for affordability assistance in Covered California, which could have been used to lower premiums even further 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. During this coronavirus, 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 taxes 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: https://health-access.org/covid-19-resources-and-information/

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