Davis Touts Record on Health Care, Proposes New Programs in State of the State Address
With the state facing an estimated $12 billion budget deficit next year, Gov. Gray Davis (D) last night delivered his State of the State address, promoting his record on a number of issues, including health care, and proposing several new programs, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Gladstone, San Jose Mercury News, 1/8). Davis pointed to the "10-fold increase" in the number of children in the state who receive health insurance through Healthy Families, which has enrolled 500,000 children in the past three years (Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/9). He also announced that he will expand the program to cover 100,000 additional children in his fiscal year 2003 budget proposal, which he will release Thursday (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 1/9). However, Davis "did not mention" his decision to delay a plan to expand Healthy Families to cover the parents of children eligible for the program (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/9). Davis said that California "leads the nation" in managed care reform. "Nearly a quarter million Californians have been served by our new Department of Managed Health Care -- the first such patient protection agency in any state. With the help of that department, 40,000 Californians have taken on their HMOs -- and won. They received the treatment their HMO denied -- without having to go to court," Davis said. Davis also pointed out that California's "aggressive crackdown" on Medi-Cal fraud has saved the state $228 million and will save $500 million by next year (Davis speech text, Contra Costa Times, 1/8).
In the coming fiscal year, Davis said that he plans to propose a program to recruit and train thousands of new nurses (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/9). "In the coming weeks, I will propose measures to expand the number of nurses throughout the state. I will provide incentives to clinics and hospitals that support clinical placements for nursing students, new graduates and returning nurses. We will also remove barriers to qualified licensed nurses moving to California from other states and other countries," he said (Contra Costa Times, 1/8). He also pledged to reauthorize a program that provides a 20% to 30% discount on prescription drug prices for seniors (Bazar, Sacramento Bee, 1/9). Davis did not discuss the budget deficit, the "thorniest issue" of 2002, "until his speech was more than half completed" (Los Angeles Times, 1/9). Although Davis "offered few details" about plans to address the shortfall in the budget, which he must balance under state law, he said that his proposed budget will include a "combination of cutbacks, deferred spending, internal borrowing and accelerated revenue" but "will not increase taxes" (Benson, Wall Street Journal, 1/9).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.