Brown Expected To Propose Cuts to Medi-Cal, Other Programs
Gov.-elect Jerry Brown (D), who will be sworn in today, is expected to propose broad budget cuts that could affect Medi-Cal and nearly all other programs that receive state funding, according to a source familiar with Brown's proposal, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
California faces an 18-month deficit that is estimated at more than $25 billion. A portion of the shortfall stems from overly optimistic budget assumptions that outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and state legislators included in the budget plan for the current fiscal year.
The estimated deficit also accounts for an expected imbalance between the amount the state will receive in taxes during the next fiscal year and the amount it would spend under current law.
Possible Cuts to Health Programs
In his forthcoming budget plan, Brown is expected to propose wide-ranging cuts to nearly all state services, including several health care programs.
For example, Brown is expected to call for reductions in Medi-Cal spending by:
- Limiting visits to physicians;
- Reducing rates paid to health care providers; and
- Requiring patients to provide copayments for services.
Brown's plan also could include changes to Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program. The changes could eliminate vision benefits and require enrollees to pay higher premiums for care.
In addition, Brown is likely to propose reductions in the number of hours that In-Home Supportive Services workers can care for disabled and elderly residents. The governor-elect also could attempt to divert certain funds from voter-approved accounts that fund mental health care and early childhood development.
Eye on June Ballot
Brown's proposal to cut nearly all state programs could be part of an effort to encourage voters to approve revenue-raising ballot measures in June, according to the Bee (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 1/3).
Such ballot measures could include extensions to temporary income, sales and vehicle taxes that are slated to expire in July. Voters rejected similar initiatives last year (Williams, AP/Los Angeles Daily News, 1/2).
After he takes office, Brown "will have to get specific about what he will cut and how he will keep the money flowing for education, social services, law enforcement and other basic state services," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states. It continues, "Now it's time for Brown to reveal his own secrets and fix the mess he was elected solve" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/2).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.