Davis Signs $99 Billion Budget Plan, Eliminates Funds for Healthy Families Expansion to Parents
Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday signed a $99 billion budget plan for fiscal year 2002-2003 that includes a number of reductions to cover the state's estimated $24 billion deficit but "largely protects" funds for health care and does not increase taxes, the Los Angeles Times reports (Morain/Jones, Los Angeles Times, 9/6). The budget includes $7.5 billion in reductions for a number of state programs, including some health care programs; billions of dollars in loans; and an "as-yet-unspecified" $750 million reduction in the state's bureaucracy to cover the shortfall, the Wall Street Journal reports. However, the budget does not include a proposal by Davis to increase the state's cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack (Benson, Wall Street Journal, 9/6). Davis line-item vetoed $235 million in expenditures from the budget plan that the Legislature passed over the weekend. Most of the funds that he eliminated were allocated for health care, social service and county programs (Los Angeles Times, 9/6). For example, Davis vetoed a $36 million payment to the counties for administration of Medi-Cal and food stamp programs. He also eliminated $52 million that would have expanded Healthy Families coverage to the parents of enrolled children. As a result, the state will lose $120 million in federal matching funds (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/6). However, the budget will expand the program for children to increase enrollment to about 624,000 (Los Angeles Times, 9/6). Other health care provisions in the budget include:
- $50.8 million in federal grants from the CDC and the Health Resources and Services Administration to fund bioterrorism preparedness efforts, such as improvement of disease surveillance and investigation, communication systems and hospital response. The state will use $16.3 million of the funds for state-level preparedness, $9.1 million for hospital preparedness and $25.4 million for county preparedness.
- $8.8 million to implement the Child Health and Disability Prevention Gateway Program, which provides health assessments and streamlines enrollment into public health care programs.
- $22 million to prevent childhood lead exposure through the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
- $2.9 billion for a number of senior programs, such as case management and community-based alternatives to long-term care.
- $85.8 million for the Department of Aging for senior community-based programs.
- $116.6 million to increase Medi-Cal enrollment for low-income seniors and residents with disabilities.
- $9.1 million to increase the Medi-Cal reimbursement rate for long-term care facilities.
- $68.4 million to increase the Medi-Cal staffing ratio of nursing hours to patients per day in nursing facilities (Department of Finance Web site, 9/5).
The decision to eliminate funds for the Healthy Families expansion to parents and other health care programs "irked" some advocates, the Contra Costa Times reports. Howard Lawrence, a spokesperson for the California PICO Project, said that the budget includes "lots of subsidies for business, but when it comes to some basic like health care, it's not in there, it's not a priority" (LaMar et al., Contra Costa Times, 9/6). "We are obviously very disappointed," he added (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/6). David Kears, director of health care services in Alameda County, said, "The most dangerous parts of the budget are hidden and obscured. All I know for sure is there will be less state support for health care services" (Contra Costa Times, 9/6).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.