Gov. Brown Proposes FY 2013-14 Budget That Expands Medi-Cal
On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2013-2014, which includes a plan to expand Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act, the Sacramento Bee reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 1/11).
Brown will release a revised budget proposal in May after the California Department of Finance has completed estimates of the state's expected revenue.
Budget Expects Surplus
Upon releasing the proposal, Brown said that -- if implemented -- his plan would leave the state with a budget surplus of $851 million.
The plan projects $98.5 billion in revenue and transfers. It estimates $97.7 billion in spending (Christie, Reuters, 1/10).
Brown's plan includes an expansion of Medi-Cal to individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Â The expansion is expected to add up to 1.5 million newly eligible adults to the program (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 1/10).
The federal government would subsidize nearly the entire cost of the expansion from 2014 through 2016.
Brown's budget plan also would:
- Earmark $350 million to boost the Medi-Cal expansion; and
- Permanently extend a tax on Medi-Cal managed care plans.
Brown said that the $350 million figure was a "placeholder" while the state awaits additional federal guidance on the scope of benefits required for newly eligible Medi-Cal beneficiaries and the formula for how much federal funding the state will receive.
Other Health-Related Budget Items
Additional health and human services-related items in the proposal include:
- A 4.9% increase in funding for In-Home Supportive Services -- which provides services for the elderly and people who are blind or have disabilities -- and an assumption that the state will be able to implement a 20% reduction in service hours on Nov. 1 to obtain $113 million in savings;
- Increases in Supplemental Security Income and State Supplemental Payout grants for low-income elderly, blind and disabled beneficiaries of $20 per month for individuals and $30 per month for couples; and
- A $142 million increase in funding for Cal-WORKs, the state's welfare-to-work program (Sacramento Bee, 1/11).
The budget proposal also allocates $1.6 billion for a court-appointed federal overseer to manage continued improvements in the state's prison health care system (Los Angeles Times, 1/10).
Reaction From Lawmakers
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he supports Brown's efforts to pay down the state's debt over time.
He said, "I can only add that we can't forget and won't forget mental health, dental care and subsistence for the elderly and disabled, and other related issues as the year progresses."
However, Senate Minority Leader Robert Huff (R-Diamond Bar) argued that Brown's budget devotes expected revenue from the voter-approved Proposition 30 tax hike to state programs and not just schools, which is contrary to the message of the Prop. 30 campaign (Sacramento Bee, 1/11).
Headlines and links to editorial coverage of Brown's budget proposal are provided below:
- "The New Budget: A Study in Low-Balling and Restraint" (Lucas, Capitol Weekly, 1/9).
- "Editorial: Gov. Brown's New Budget More Reality-Based" (Orange County Register, 1/10).
- "Editorial: A Solid California Budget, but Still a Shaky Fiscal Foundation" (Sacramento Bee, 1/11).
Broadcast CoverageOn Thursday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on lawmakers' reaction to Brown's budget proposal (Quinton, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/10). 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.