Healthy Families Funds Restored, Cuts Remain for Other Health Efforts
Healthy Families could be the only California health program that will see its funding losses restored this legislative session, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Healthy Families is the state's Children's Health Insurance Program.
Lawmakers Rescue Healthy Families
The program previously faced a $196 million budget shortfall following cuts from a July budget revision package.
However, earlier this month the Legislature passed a bill (AB 1422) by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) designed to reverse Healthy Families' budget cuts by:
- Tapping into tobacco tax revenue;
- Drawing down federal matching funds;
- Raising premiums and copayments for participating families; and
- Taxing health plans.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has until midnight on Oct. 11 to act on the bill.
Other Health Programs Remain Strained
When the governor signed the budget revision package, he used line-item vetoes to eliminate $489 million in funding for health care programs and other state services.
In response, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) filed a lawsuit alleging that Schwarzenegger overstepped his authority when he used the line-item vetoes to deepen funding cuts for health care and other services.
Aside from the lawsuit, legislators have taken limited action to restore funding to other state health care programs.
Health Bills Before the Governor
Several bills aim to expand health insurance coverage for specific conditions. They include:
- AB 244 by Assembly member Jim Beall (D-San Jose), whichÂ would expand coverage for mental illness;
- AB 98 byÂ Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate), which would expand coverage for maternity care;
- SB 161 by Sen. Roderick Wright (D-South Central Los Angeles), which would expand coverage for oral cancer drugs;
- AB 513 by Assembly member Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles), which would expand coverage for lactation consultation; and
- SB 630 by Steinberg, which would expand coverage for reconstructive surgery for cleft palates.
Summaries of other health-related legislation before the governor appear below.
- AB 2 by De La Torre would require health plans to obtain approval from an independent review panel before canceling an individual health insurance policy.
- AB 120 by Assembly member Mary Hayashi (D-Castro Valley) would strengthen and accelerate the system for disciplining physicians.
- SB 820 by Sens. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) and Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) would authorize the Medical Board of California to intervene sooner in disciplinary cases against health care providers.
- AB 1544 by Assembly members Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego) and Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) would streamline the approval process for hospital-operated outpatient primary care clinics.
- SB 196 by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-Oakland) would require hospitals to provide 180 days notice and hold public hearings before eliminating emergency services.
- AB 119 by Jones would prohibit health insurance companies from charging different premiums based on gender.
- AB 1383 also by Jones would impose a fee on hospitals in order to draw down increased federal reimbursements for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
- SB 674 by Negrete McLeod would establish accreditation rules and standards for fertility clinics and cosmetic surgery centersÂ (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 9/18).