Health Care Funding Up in Revised Budget Proposal
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Friday is expected to release a $126 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2006-2007 that includes additional funding for children's health insurance programs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/12). State revenue is $5 billion higher than expected, according to the Contra Costa Times.
Schwarzenegger said he will propose a $22.8 million initiative to provide health insurance for 24,000 children who do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 5/12). The additional funding would be directed to county health insurance programs for low-income children (Joseph, Orange County Register, 5/12). Children currently on waiting lists for coverage through the county programs would be eligible for coverage under the governor's proposal (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 5/12).
Health and Human Services Secretary Kim Belshé said the proposed funding increase would serve as "a transitional or bridge proposal pending a decision by voters on whether Healthy Families should be expanded." A proposed measure for the November ballot would increase the state tobacco tax by $2.60 per pack to fund children's health insurance under Healthy Families, among other programs (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 5/12).
The revised budget proposal also is expected to include:
- A plan to use $75 million annually in Proposition 63 funds over the next two decades to build housing for people with mental illnesses (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/12). State voters in 2004 approved Proposition 63 to increase the state income tax by 1% on residents whose annual incomes exceed $1 million to fund mental health care (Los Angeles Times, 5/12). The proposal could increase housing for people with mental illnesses by up to 10,000 units (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/12);
- $400 million for disaster preparedness, including more than $300 million for medical supplies in the event of an avian flu pandemic (Sacramento Bee, 5/12);
- The restoration of welfare payment increases for elderly and disabled state residents. Schwarzenegger in January announced a plan to block increases to the payments (Los Angeles Times, 5/12).
Schwarzenegger also is expected to propose using $1 billion of the surplus to pay down the state's debt, $2 billion to increase reserves and $2.8 billion for education (Davis, AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/12). 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.