Calif. Lawmakers Set To Consider Budget Today; Health Advocates Wary
On Thursday, California Assembly members and senators are scheduled to consider a recent budget agreement developed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and top legislators from both parties, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The budget compromise attempts to resolve the state's $26 million deficit with a combination of spending cuts, accounting maneuvers and borrowing from local governments.
Although Schwarzenegger said he expects the Legislature to approve the budget plan, lawmakers from both parties appear to have reservations about certain proposals.
In addition, local governments already are preparing to sue the state over the plan to raid local treasuries.
Votes on the budget are expected to begin Friday, the AP/Union-Tribune reports (Lin, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/23).
Advocates Express Concern Over Health Cuts
Advocates say proposals to drastically reduce funding for California's health programs could eliminate the social safety net for many elderly residents and children from low-income families.
Under the budget plan, the state's In-Home Supportive Services Program could lose $226 million in funding. In addition, adult day health care centers would offer services three days a week, instead of the previous four or five days per week.
Such cuts to home-based care services could force many people to send elderly family members to nursing homes, advocates say.
In addition, children's health experts have warned that many children could be left without health insurance if lawmakers follow through on a plan to cut $124 million from Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 7/22).
Neither the governor's office nor the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers Healthy Families, disputed that many children would lose coverage under the budget plan (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 7/22).
Advocates are pressing for more details on how the state plans to eliminate $1.3 billion in funding from Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (Ventura County Star, 7/22).
The budget proposal also includes cuts to:
- Mental health care;
- Services for people with HIV/AIDS;
- Rural health care; and
- Assistance to financially troubled hospitals (Modesto Bee, 7/22).