Los Angeles Times Considers Effects of Proposed State Budget on Health Care, Other Industries
The Los Angeles Times on Thursday looked at the reaction of the California business community, including the health care industry, to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) fiscal year 2004-2005 budget proposal (Dickerson/Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 1/22). To close a predicted budget shortfall, Schwarzenegger's $99.1 billion proposal would reduce state funding for health care programs by more than $900 million, with about $880 million in spending cuts to Medi-Cal, including a provider reimbursement rate cut of 10%. A previous 5% reimbursement rate cut is being challenged in court (California Healthline, 1/14). The Times reports that health care providers, particularly those who serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries, said that proposed funding cuts to health programs could reduce their reimbursements by as much as 15%. Dr. Ralph Kuon, a Montebello-based vascular and thoracic surgeon, said that Medi-Cal reimbursements account for 40% of revenue in his practice and that the proposed reduction likely would force him out of business. He added that reimbursement reductions might lead to a lack of providers for Medi-Cal beneficiaries (Los Angeles Times, 1/22).
The following broadcast programs reported on reaction to cuts in public health services proposed in Schwarzenegger's budget:
- KPBS' "KPBS News": The segment includes comments from Carmela Castellano, president and CEO of the California Primary Care Association (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 1/20). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "California Report": The segment reports on the budget proposal's impact on health care services in two rural communities. The segment includes comments from Shasta County Director of Mental Health Don Kingdon (Dechter, "California Report," KQED, 1/20). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
It may be time for California to implement a performance-based review of all state programs, including health services, to determine their levels of funding, Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub writes in an opinion piece. The review, supported by Schwarzenegger's Finance Director Donna Arduin, is a "quaint idea" in which every state program would have "specific goals" and "clear measures" to determine if funding is appropriate, Weintraub writes. For example, a review of Medi-Cal found that spending grew by 41% to $3.1 billion between 1998-1999 and 2003, largely because of decisions to expand eligibility over that time to an additional 1.5 million people, according to Weintraub. However, he writes that it could be difficult to decide whether to evaluate Medi-Cal by the number of beneficiaries, its costs per person or the health status of beneficiaries. Weintraub concludes that although the review process "seems simple," it "can lead to a bureaucratic morass, and to people gaming the numbers" (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 1/22).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.