California Journal Examines Possible Effect of Proposed Budget on Health Care Safety Net Programs
California Journal in its March issue examines the state's "budget crisis and pending cuts to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families," which could affect the "flimsy state of California's health care safety net." The safety net currently is "chronically underfunded and in a number of regions, barely able to deliver its legally mandated medical care to patients," the Journal reports. With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) proposing $961.6 million in funding cuts to indigent care programs to help reduce a $15 billion state budget deficit in fiscal year 2004-2005, many parts of the safety net could be affected, costing the state billions of dollars in lost funding and higher medical costs and overburdening the infrastructure with uninsured patients. "The condition of the safety net? In one word: 'endangered,'" Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said. Kim Belshe, secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency, said, "We really have no choice but to cut spending, but these are cuts that will challenge us all." Schwarzenegger's spending proposals "face rough treatment in the Legislature," and the California Medical Association has said it might file suit against a proposed 10% cut in reimbursements to Medi-Cal providers, the Journal reports (Robitaille, California Journal, March 2004).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.