Health Care Advocates Pan Schwarzenegger’s Budget Update
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to balance the budget by cutting programs for the poor and borrowing against lottery income drew criticism from all corners this week, especially from health care advocates.
"If this budget somehow passes and even a fraction of these cuts go into effect, Governor Schwarzenegger's legacy to the people of California will not be the health care reform he has promised, but instead a health care system damaged beyond belief," Richard Frankenstein, president of the California Medical Association, said.
CMA and several other state organizations filed a lawsuit this month seeking to block the governor's plan to reduce Medi-Cal reimbursements, part of Schwarzenegger's first budget proposal.
Schwarzenegger, who now says the budget gap is at $17.2 billion, unveiled his revised budget proposal this week with even deeper cuts in health and welfare programs. While he backed away from earlier calls for deep cuts in education and state parks, the governor is now seeking $3.4 billion in cuts to health and human services programs.
In addition to 10% reductions to Medi-Cal reimbursements that already have won approval, the new budget aims to tighten eligibility for the program in many cases.
The centerpiece of Schwarzenegger's budget plan is borrowing money now against future income from the state lottery. If that fails, the governor's fallback plan is to raise the state sales tax by 1%. Lawmakers from both major parties criticized the idea.
The budget likely will take center stage in the immediate future in Sacramento, but health care bills will remain under consideration. Here's a look at recent action on some of those measures.