Health Care Advocates Question Medi-Cal Provisions in Davis’ Proposed Budget
Following Gov. Gray Davis' (D) release last week of his fiscal year 2002-2003 proposed budget, health care advocates expressed concern that some of the cuts to health care programs, including Medi-Cal, would have a negative impact on sick and low-income state residents, the Los Angeles Times reports (Tamaki, Los Angeles Times, 1/13). The proposed budget would reduce 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. In addition, the budget would establish a $1 copayment on prescription drugs under Medi-Cal. The budget also would delay a proposal to enroll parents of low-income children in Healthy Families by 18 months, until July 2003 (California Healthline, 1/11). The budget received "mixed reviews" from health care advocates. Liz Calanche of Inland Congregations United for Change, a faith-based social change group, "decried" the governor's proposal to impose out-of-pocket costs on Medi-Cal beneficiaries. According to Calanche, many Medi-Cal beneficiaries "are willing to pay a part of the cost" of the program, but that "means less money for food, gas or transportation to see the doctor." She added, "I have a lot of families that say, 'We just try not to get sick.'" Calanche also called Davis' decision to delay a plan to extend Healthy Families to uninsured parents a "big disappointment" for low-income families (McNary, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/14). Davis must issue a final budget by July 1, and the Legislature must approve the final version (California Healthline, 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.