California Legislature Drops Some Health Cuts From Budget
Early this morning, the California Legislature approved a budget proposal for fiscal year 2008-2009 that avoided some cuts to health care and other programs, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Democrats widely opposed the proposed cuts (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 9/16).
The proposal does not eliminate dental services for adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries or impose new restrictions on Medi-Cal services for undocumented immigrants. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Halper/Rau, Los Angeles Times, 9/16).
Beyond those already introduced by Senate Democrats, the budget agreement does not include cuts to health care, human services or education programs, according to information Ventura County officials received from the California State Association of Counties (Biasotti, Ventura County Star, 9/16).
The budget retains a provision to increase monthly premiums for Healthy Families, California's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (Los Angeles Times, 9/16).
The proposal would restore most of the 10% cut in Medi-Cal payments to health care providers beginning in March 2009 (Lin, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/16). California's Medicaid reimbursement rates will remain the lowest in the U.S. even after the cuts are restored, according to the Los Angeles Times.
California lawmakers rejected language that would have approved $8 billion in borrowing to fund the construction of seven new prison medical facilities and renovations at existing facilities.
J. Clark Kelso, the court appointed receiver of the prison health care system, requested the funding (Los Angeles Times, 9/16). Last month, Kelso filed for a court order to compel the state to provide the funds, starting with $3.1 billion in the current fiscal year.
Kelso requested a Sept. 22 hearing in San Francisco in the case (California Healthline, 8/14).
The proposal approved by legislators calls for $7.1 billion in spending cuts and seeks to boost revenue by $9.3 billion by moving up deadlines for some tax payments, ending some tax loopholes and increasing state income tax withholdings for some Californians (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/16).
Some provisions of the budget would have to be presented to voters for approval. Among those:
- A proposal that would permit the state to sell bonds that would be repaid using future lottery revenue; and
- Proposals for further changes to the state budget process.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) criticized budget reform provisions in the proposal, arguing that the plan lacks adequate protections for a proposed state reserve fund. The governor threatened to veto the measure.
Legislative leaders are confident that they have sufficient support to override a veto (Los Angeles Times, 9/16).