From our friends at Health Access:
As legislators got sworn in for a new two-year legislative session today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special legislative session to focus on the continuing state budget crisis, and released a new package of budget cuts.
The proposal includes $900 million in cuts in the current 2010-11 budget, and another $6.5 billion in cuts in the budget year of 2011-12. The full proposal for the 18 months includes $7.35 billion in cuts, $9.87 billion overall including fund shifts and other “solutions.”
The package included proposals that eliminated or eviscerated key health and human services, proposals that have already been rejected by the Legislature accordingly. California children and families, seniors, and people with disabilities will find their prescriptions and doctors visits limited, their coverage for certain treatments capped, and significant costs for getting doctor and hospital care. The proposals would deny medically necessary care, place greater financial strain on families, and turn back hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds for our economy.
The health cuts include:
PROPOSED CUTS TO MEDI-CAL:
· Limit care and coverage for 7 million Californians including millions of low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities and chronic illness, including:
o Limit doctor/clinic visits to 10/year.
o Limit prescription drugs to 6 per month (with no exceptions unless for life-saving drugs, which is undefined).
o Eliminate coverage for over-the-counter drugs.
o Establish maximum benefit dollar caps on medical supplies (e.g., diabetes management test strips & lancets, wound care, incontinence supplies) and durable medical equipment (e.g., wheelchairs and hearing aids).
· Raise the cost of care for Medi-Cal patients, the vast majority of whom are under the poverty level and have monthly incomes below $1,000, including:
o $100/day for a hospital stay, up to a maximum of $200.
o $50 copayment for emergency room visits.
o $5 copayment for doctor visits and prescriptions.
· Eliminate Medi-Cal coverage for recent legal immigrants, affecting about 90,000 legal immigrants who have resided in the US for less than five years;
· Eliminate Medi-Cal adult day health care benefits.
· Reduce Medi-Cal rates for family planning services.
PROPOSED CUTS TO HEALTHY FAMILIES:
* Increase monthly premiums for families between 200 and 250 percent FPL by $18 per child, an increase of 75%, (with a family maximum of $126); and for families between 150-200% FPL by $14/child by nearly 100%. Such premium increases likely violate federal health reform by changing enrollment procedures.
* Raise emergency room co-payments from $15 to $50 and raising hospital inpatient services co-payments of $100 per day with a $200 maximum ($0.7 million).
* Eliminate vision care for children, including coverage for eyeglasses.
The Governor’s proposal has also significant cuts to human services, including the elimination of CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program; the California Food Assistance Program; state funding for certain child care programs and drug Medi-Cal programs, and more.
The proposed economic impact of this budget proposal would be significant, since the cuts to health and human services would lead to lost federal funds and ripple effects in our health system and economy.
Legislators that have rejected these cuts as too severe previously have another concern about acting on a legislative cuts package under this Governor: recent court rulings have indicated that a mid-year cuts package with specific cuts could then be used as a vehicle, under the Governor’s line-item veto authority, for additional unilateral cuts in those programs. Advocates for health care, human services, and low-income families have urged the legislature not to give the Governor such a “blank check” to eviscerate or eliminate core programs.
Legislators and advocates are looking toward working on the budget with Governor-elect Jerry Brown. While he will be sworn in early in January, he is kicking off his public deliberations on the budget crisis this Wednesday, December 8th, with a big meeting at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento. He is expected to at least unveil his conception of the scope of the problem, if not to proposed specific solutions at that time. Other budget events will be forthcoming in the Bay Area and in Los Angeles.
INVITATIONS: Friends of Health Access California are invited to two events in the next week:
* In Oakland: The annual Health Access/California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) Holiday Party this Thursday evening, December 9th, starting at 4pm-7pm, at Max’s Diner and Bar, 500 12th Street, #35 in Oakland, (near the 12th Street BART, where it has been for the past several years). As always, it’s a purely social event, with drinks, for our members, and allies, and friends. Please RSVP to Pam Flood at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* In Los Angeles: Health Access invites you to a conversation with Wendell Potter about his work and new book, Deadly Spin. It will be Tuesday, December 14th, 12noon-2pm, at The California Endowment, 1000 N. Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA. Wendell Potter, former Vice President of Communications at CIGNA, made national headlines last year when he testified before a Senate panel, disclosing how profit-driven insurance companies engage in practices forcing millions of Americans into underinsured or uninsured status. Since then, he has worked tirelessly on health reform and is an outspoken critic of both America’s health insurance industry and corporate PR. Mr. Potter will be in conversation with Kathlyn Mead, EVP & COO, The California Endowment. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. A light lunch will be served at 12 p.m.
As always, more information on the budget and health reform is available on our website at www.health-access.org.