Democrats, Republicans in Legislature Agree to Budget Package That Includes $300 Million in Medi-Cal Cuts
Democrat and Republican state lawmakers yesterday reached a compromise on a budget package that would reduce state expenditures by $3.6 billion by borrowing against state pension funds and cutting spending at some state programs, including Medi-Cal, the Los Angeles Times reports. In exchange for votes for a Democrat-backed plan to borrow against state pension funds, Republicans negotiated approximately $1.8 billion in spending reductions (Halper/Rabin, Los Angeles Times, 5/1). The package includes nearly $300 million in cuts to Medi-Cal. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the majority of the cut comes from altering eligibility reporting requirements and encouraging counties to reduce administrative expenses (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/1). Under the new Medi-Cal reporting requirements, beneficiaries would be required to prove their eligibility twice annually instead of just once, which could result in tens of thousands of Californians losing their eligibility, according to the Department of Finance (Los Angeles Times, 5/1). The budget package also includes a plan to reduce state expenditures by $50 million by "controlling costs" for Medi-Cal dental services. Gov. Gray Davis (D) had originally proposed eliminating Medi-Cal dental services, which would reduce state spending by $212 million. The Senate is expected to pass the six-bill package today, and the Assembly is expected to pass the package by Monday (LaMar, Contra Costa Times, 5/1). Still, the Chronicle reports that legislators still need to find more ways to address an estimated $35 billion budget gap, and the "primary disagreement" between Democrats and Republicans remains. Democrats say tax increases are required to prevent further "harsh cuts" to state programs for children with low-income parents and seniors, but Republicans say they will not vote for tax increases (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/1).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.