Legislators Debate State Budget
Democratic lawmakers say the legislature likely will meet Thursday's state constitutional deadline for approving a state budget, but some Republicans disagree with provisions involving children's health insurance and other proposed programs, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 6/13).
A provision in the budget is similar to a proposed tobacco tax measure supporters are trying to qualify for the November ballot. Proceeds of the increased tobacco tax would be used in part to fund an expansion of health insurance programs.
The budget provision would increase the eligibility limit for Healthy Families from 250% of the federal poverty level to 275% of FPL in 2007 and to 300% of FPL in 2008. The budget provision would take effect only if the proposed measure is not approved on the November statewide ballot.
Undocumented immigrants would account for the majority of the expected increase in Healthy Families enrollment under the provision. The Department of Finance estimates that providing health insurance coverage to undocumented immigrants would cost the state $264 million in fiscal year 2007-2008 and $286 million in FY 2008-2009. The overall cost of the benefit would total an estimated $272 million in FY 2007-2008 and $302 million in FY 2008-2009 (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/13).
Some Republicans have criticized the proposal because of its inclusion of undocumented immigrants, a population that the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research estimates accounts for about 12% of uninsured children in California (Sacramento Bee, 6/13).
Assembly member Juan Arambula (D-Fresno) said that undocumented children already can receive health services at emergency departments and that it costs less to provide preventive care to the children than to treat them in EDs.
The budget proposal also includes a measure by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to provide $23 million to help counties enroll an estimated 24,000 uninsured children on waiting lists for county Healthy Kids initiatives in health plans (Schultz, Fresno Bee, 6/13).
Senate minority leader Dick Ackerman on Monday said the budget would not pass as currently written. "There are no Republican votes," Ackerman said (Sacramento Bee, 6/13).