Schwarzenegger Sends Budget With Health Cuts to Legislature
On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) sent the legislature a budget proposal that includes cuts to health care, education and programs for low-income Californians, as well as new revenue and borrowing, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The state budget deficit is projected to reach $40 billion over the next 18 months (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/10).
Effect on Health Benefits
Under the governor's budget proposal, an estimated 429,000 Californians would lose eligibility for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.Â
Officials with the California Department of Health Care Services said the state would save $1.1 billion under the proposed Medi-Cal reductions.
In addition, Californians with disabilities and low-income seniors no longer would receive:
- Dental benefits;
- Podiatric care;
- Optical lab services; or
- Speech therapy.
The budget also proposes asking voters to approve replacing funding for the state's $226 million Mental Health Managed Care program with money from Proposition 63, a voter-approved initiative that provides funds for mental health services (Fernandez, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/10).
State officials maintain that the state could lack sufficient funds to pay for government operations as soon as February, and Controller John Chiang (D) has informed state agencies that he will have to issue IOUs beginning on Feb. 1 if a budget plan is not approved before then (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/10).
Don Steuer, San Diego County's chief financial officer, said if payments are not made to counties, it could take a toll on local health and human services programs.
Steuer said, "Medi-Cal institutional providers, adoption assistance, cash assistance for immigrants, foster care and adult protective services -- how those payments are going to occur without a state budget, I don't have an answer for that."
Garin Casaleggio, a spokesperson for Chiang, said, "It is without a doubt that ... in February, payments ... for the blind, disabled and elderly, CalWorks (welfare) participants, mental health programs and health insurance for children would grind to a halt" (Sweeney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/11).
On Friday, Schwarzenegger also announced a plan that will close most state offices on the first and third Fridays of the month.
State hospital and prisons will not be subject to the closure, but employees still would be required to take off two days each month unpaid (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 1/10).
State worker unions have challenged the governor's furlough plan in court, and a Sacramento Superior Court judge has set a hearing for Jan. 29.
The mandatory furloughs are projected to save the state $1.3 billion through June 2010 (Yi, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/10).
State Workers' Health BenefitsOn Friday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on Schwarzenegger's proposal to have the state Department of Personnel Administration contract directly with health plans for health care benefits for state workers and retirees, rather than go through CalPERS (Weiss, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/9). 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.