California Not Alone in Budget Cuts for Health Care Programs
California is facing the most serious budget deficit of states this year, and the ensuing proposals to cut health care, education and other programs in the state are among the "most dramatic," the Washington Post reports.
For example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has proposed $650 million in cuts to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, the state's Medicaid program and its version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, respectively. The proposals under consideration include a call to terminate coverage of dental, optometry and psychology services for adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
In addition, the state Department of Public Health faces an $11 million funding cut for HIV/AIDS services, $7 million of which would come from a program that helps buy antiretroviral drugs for low-income people with HIV/AIDS.
A recent survey by the Associated Press projects that hundreds of thousands of children, seniors and people with disabilities could lose health care coverage because of state budget cuts, while more than 10 million could have coverage terminated for dental care, medical specialists and brand-name medications.
Pointing to state budget cuts in 2001, when states also faced steep drops in revenue, experts say that state officials often cut health care services and medical benefits first because costs for such programs tend to increase faster than others and because savings can be realized quickly (Richburg/Surdin, Washington Post, 3/31).