Schwarzenegger Pressures Senate Republicans To Approve Budget
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) appeared at medical facilities in Santa Barbara and Fresno counties to showcase how the state budget stalemate is affecting health care and urge Senate Republicans to approve a spending plan, the Fresno Bee reports (Branan, Fresno Bee, 8/14).
Physicians, pharmacists and other health care providers that bill Medi-Cal directly have continued to receive provider payments from the state. Without a budget in place, California has suspended Medi-Cal provider payments to long-term care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and some other health care providers that do not bill Medi-Cal directly (California Healthline, 8/13).
The state has not made about $787 million in Medi-Cal provider payments since the July 1 start of the fiscal year, and an additional $271 million will not be paid to Medi-Cal providers on Thursday unless a budget is approved (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 8/14).
Without Medi-Cal payments, two clinics in Tulare County closed last week, and other health care facilities in the San Joaquin Valley are having problems maintaining operations, according to the Bee.
The governor urged Senate Republicans to vote in favor of a state budget proposal that the Assembly approved last month, intending to put particular pressure on Sens. Jeff Denham (R-Merced) and Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto).
At least two votes from Republican senators are needed to achieve the two-thirds majority to pass the budget, but so far only one Republican senator has broken party ranks to support the spending plan (Fresno Bee, 8/14).
Speaking in Fresno, Schwarzenegger accused Senate Republicans of delaying the state budget to hinder efforts to overhaul California's health care system. "It is to their interest to drag this out so that we will not have enough time to get to health care reform," the governor said.
The Legislature returns from summer recess on Aug. 20, but the Times reports that major bills are unlikely to win legislative approval this session unless the budget is resolved quickly.
Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Irvine) said that his caucus is "absolutely not" trying to derail health care reform (Los Angeles Times, 8/14).
Denham and Cogdill went further, arguing that legislators should be called back to Sacramento to vote on a temporary budget that Denham offered (Fresno Bee, 8/14). The proposed legislation would maintain funding for health clinics until a budget is approved.
However, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) dismissed the measure, arguing, "To say ... let's temporarily fund these programs so we can come back three or four weeks from now when nobody's paying attention and gut or entirely eliminate programs like these is unacceptable" (Los Angeles Times, 8/14).
Video and the text of the governor's remarks are available on his Web site.
In addition, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" on Monday reported on Núñez's visit to a clinic where he called for passage of a state budget (Russ, Capital Public Radio, "KXJZ News," 8/13). Full audio is available online.