Davis Unveils $100B Fiscal Year 2002-2003 Budget That Includes Cuts in Several Health Programs
Amid an estimated $12.5 billion state budget deficit, Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday unveiled his proposed $100 billion fiscal year 2002-2003 budget, which includes "substantial cuts" in several state health care programs, including Medi-Cal, the Sacramento Bee reports (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 1/11). However, while a number of health care programs "come under the scalpel," the Orange County Register reports that the proposed reductions in health programs "are not as deep or wide as in some other areas" of the budget, and "overall, spending on health services would rise slightly" (Orange County Register, 1/11). The proposed budget would "slice" the state's health and human services budget by $1.15 billion to $27.2 billion (Chang, Contra Costa Times, 1/11). The budget would "slash" Medi-Cal reimbursements to doctors by $78 million and raise copayments for Medi-Cal beneficiaries by $1 to $3 for doctor's office visits and $5 for emergency room visits (Orange County Register, 1/11). The budget also would establish a $1 copayment on prescription drugs under Medi-Cal (Tamaki et al., Los Angeles Times, 1/11). The increased Medi-Cal copayments are expected to save the state $30.6 million next year (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/11). The budget also would eliminate the state's Child Health and Disability Prevention Program, which serves 1.1 million California children (Orange County Register, 1/11). In addition, the budget would increase a fee "aimed primarily at teaching hospitals" that serve a "disproportionate number" of low-income patients, which would raise more than $55 million for the state (Los Angeles Times, 1/11).
The budget includes $795 million to increase the number of children enrolled in Healthy Families from 500,000 to 640,000 (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/11). However, the Los Angeles Times reports that the $795 million figure only represents a "slight increase in spending" (Los Angeles Times, 1/11). In addition, the budget would delay a proposal to enroll parents of low-income children in the program by 18 months until July 2003 (Orange County Register, 1/11). The budget would provide additional funds for a state AIDS drug assistance program and fund a number of other AIDS-related programs at FY 2001-2002 levels (Los Angeles Times, 1/11). State hospitals also would receive $518 million in additional Medi-Cal funds to cover back claims and an increase in reimbursement rates for outpatient care (Orange County Register, 1/11). The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Davis' budget relies on "several assumptions," including $400 million in Medi-Cal reimbursements from the federal government (Lucas/Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/11). In addition, the budget "dips" into funds from the 1998 national tobacco settlement to "keep several health programs afloat" (Chang, Contra Costa Times, 1/11). The Contra Costa Times reports that the budget represents the "first step in a long, winding road" to approval. Davis must issue a final budget by July 1, and the state Legislature must approve the final version. Lawmakers said that the budget issued yesterday would "receive plenty of tinkering" in the Legislature. "I don't envy the governor, but I don't like the fact that they are trying to balance [the budget] on the back of the poor, the aged, blind and disabled," state Senate Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco) said (La Mar/Taugher, Contra Costa Times, 1/11).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.