Medi-Cal Cuts in Budget Will Not Decrease State Spending
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) promise to Senate Republicans to use his line-item veto authority to reduce the state budget in the case of Medi-Cal will amount to a "bookkeeping change that does nothing to reduce state spending," Daniel Weintraub writes in his Sacramento Bee column.
Senate Republicans delayed approval of California's budget for fiscal year 2007-2008 until more spending cuts were made.
"Nearly half the cuts Schwarzenegger committed to make -- about $300 million -- will come from a reduction in the reserve set aside for the Medi-Cal program," Weintraub writes.
However, Weintraub writes that the Medi-Cal reserve is "largely irrelevant because Medi-Cal is an entitlement program." Therefore, if Medi-Cal bills exceed the reserve funds, the "Legislature will have to shift money elsewhere to cover the shortfall," according to Weintraub.
Weintraub writes that "by putting that money into the budget's main reserve rather than leaving it dedicated to Medi-Cal, the deal endorsed by the Senate Republicans makes the money more accessible to lawmakers."
"That means it is more likely that the money will be spent, not less likely," Weintraub writes (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 8/23).
KPCC's "Air Talk" on Wednesday included a discussion on how the budget will impact hospitals, state agencies and other groups. Guests on the program included:
- Julie Small, state capital reporter for KPCC;
- H.D. Palmer, deputy director of external affairs at the Department of Finance;
- Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project; and
- Mike Turner, head of government relations for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Chen, "Air Talk," KPCC, 8/22).
Audio of the segment is available online. 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.