Advocates Alarmed Over Possible Line-Item Veto of Health Funding
Advocates are expressing concern that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) will exercise his line-item veto authority to cut additional funding from state health and social services when he signs a budget package today, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The governor is expected to line-item veto about $670 million from state programs in an effort to maintain a reserve fund.
Last week, the Assembly rejected certain budget provisions that would have kept funds in the reserve (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 7/28).
In his announcement Friday that he planned to sign the budget package, Schwarzenegger said, "I just want to assure everyone that we will build up our reserve. We will make the necessary cuts" (Lin, AP/ABC News, 7/28).
Existing Health Cuts
The budget agreement crafted by the governor and leading lawmakers already eliminates $1.6 billion from state health programs by cutting:
- $224 million from the state's In-Home Supportive Services program. About 40,000 people could lose services under the plan;
- $124 million from Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program. The spending reduction could force officials to disenroll children from the program; andÂ
- $25 million from adult day health care services. The program would offer services three days a week instead of the previous five days per week.
Dev GnanaDev, president of the California Medical Association, said the spending reductions will hit vulnerable populations hardest.
"These cuts dramatically increase the long-term health care costs borne by taxpayers, as the patients shut out of these programs now must turn to costly and overcrowded emergency rooms for care," GnanaDev said (Hines, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/27).
Advocates Sound Off
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) said she is "concerned very much that health and human services have already been cut so much" in the existing budget plan. Bass added that she hopes Schwarzenegger will refrain from further cutting health programs.
Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said he is worried the governor will impose additional cuts to a block grant that funds Healthy Families (Sacramento Bee, 7/28).
Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, said, "Why further punish children, low-income families, and the aged and disabled because the Legislature did not approve borrowing gas tax revenue?" (AP/ABC News, 7/28).
If Schwarzenegger uses his line-item veto to reduce funding for certain programs, lawmakers still could submit revenue proposals in August to counterbalance the cuts, the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 7/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.