State Has Slashed Billions From Health Services Since Recession
California lawmakers have cut billions of dollars from health and human services programs over the past few years to help shore up the state budget weakened byÂ the economic downturn, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The reductions have scaled back the safety net for the elderly, low-income residents and individuals with disabilities.
Advocates for low-income residents have said the spending cuts have reversed policy priorities and hurt the ability of public agencies to deal with a population that is aging and growing.
According to the non-partisan think tank California Budget Project, some of the deep cuts to health and human services programs in recent years include:
- $4.6 billion from the Supplemental Security Income program, which supports about 1.3 million low-income elderly residents and those with disabilities;
- $3 billion from Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, which provides health care coverage for about 7.5 million Californians; and
- More than $3 billion from CalWorks, the state welfare-to-work program for about 600,000 families with children.
The budget package signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in June also contains substantial spending cuts.
Advocates, LawmakersÂ Weigh In
Frank Mecca, who heads the County Welfare Directors Association of California, said the cuts are diminishing counties' ability to fund services, with many counties cutting staff despite an increase in caseloads.
Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said Medi-Cal cuts and the removal of state funds for community health clinics have reduced access to health care.
California lawmakers have said that difficult decisions about spending had to be made because of the state's large budget shortfalls.
About one-quarter of state spending goes toward health and human services programs (Zavis, Los Angeles Times, 7/30).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.