California Voters Favor Tax Increases To Prevent Proposed Medi-Cal Reductions To Cover State Budget Deficit
A majority of registered voters in California support increased taxes to prevent proposed reductions to Medi-Cal in the state's fiscal year 2002-2003 budget, according to a survey sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation, the Contra Costa Times reports (Contra Costa Times, 7/10). In the survey, conducted by the Field Institute, researchers asked 1,052 registered voters about their opinions on different proposals to cover the state's estimated $23.6 billion budget deficit. The survey found that 76% of voters oppose reductions to health care programs for low-income and disabled California residents. Voters also oppose most proposals to reduce Medi-Cal costs. The survey found that 64% of voters oppose reductions in Medi-Cal reimbursements to providers or the elimination of optional benefits such as dental care. However, 53% of voters favor an increase in income eligibility limits to reduce Medi-Cal costs, the survey found. CHCF CEO Mark Smith said, "The findings clearly show that the Medi-Cal program is one of the areas voters want spared from the budget axe." Researchers also asked voters about public health programs in general and found that 77% of voters support programs that provide health coverage for low-income or disabled residents. In addition, 84% of voters favor programs that provide health coverage to children in low-income families, the survey found.
According to the survey, 94% of voters favor some form of tax increase over reductions in public health programs to cover the state's budget deficit. The survey found that 78% of voters support a five-cent per-serving tax increase on alcohol, and 74% of voters favor a 50-cent per-pack tax increase on cigarettes (CHCF release, 7/9). The survey found "strong support to raise taxes" to avoid proposed reductions to Medi-Cal, Chris Perrone, deputy director of the Medi-Cal Policy Institute at CHCF, said (Darryl Drevna, California Healthline, 7/9). Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a statewide coalition of health care advocates, said, "Voters believe health care is a high priority. Californians want to share in a solution" (Fletcher, Sacramento Bee, 7/9). Smith said that he hopes the survey will "influence" the state budget debate (Tamaki, Los Angeles Times, 7/10). The results of the survey, questions asked in the survey and related information are available online.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.