Gov. Asks Congress To Consider Health Reform’s Effect on States
On Tuesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) sent a letter urging Congress to amend health care reform proposals that he said would saddle California's overstretched budget with additional costs, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The letter estimates that California could owe between $3 billion and $4 billion in new funding obligations when the reform proposals take effect by 2018-2019.
However, some health care advocates dispute these figures. Health Access California predicts that health reform would cost California a maximum of $316 million.
The federal economic stimulus package requires California to offer Medi-Cal to families that earn up to 106% of the federal poverty level. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Under current reform proposals, California would need to provide the same amount of benefits beyond next year.
In the letter, Schwarzenegger asked Congress to direct more funds to California or allow the state to reduce Medi-Cal eligibility to 70% of the federal poverty level. He said the Medi-Cal cuts would help the state reduce spending by about $500 million.
IHSS, Other Cuts
The governor also took issue with recent federal court decisions that have prevented the state from instituting cuts to In-Home Supportive Services and other programs.
Schwarzenegger said that if federal regulations continue to restrict such program changes, he might attempt to eliminate IHSS and other services (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 12/23).
Despite his concerns about state costs, Schwarzenegger wrote that he continues to support a national health care reform effort.
He wrote, "For health care reform to succeed, Congress must first and foremost give states the flexibility to meet our current obligations within the revenues available to states" (Office of the Governor release, 12/22).
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