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Health Changes Likely in State Budget

The California Legislature is expected to pass on time the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget that includes funding for a number of health-related programs.

But according to Scott Graves, director of research at the California Budget and Policy Center, a not-for-profit budget analyst, the Legislature’s budget will “face a hostile reception” once it hits the governor’s desk.

“Legislators assume the state will receive about $3 billion more in revenues in 2015-16 than the governor estimates,” Graves said in a written statement. “Moreover, lawmakers appropriately use some of these revenues to strengthen key services and supports at a time when millions of Californians are struggling to make ends meet during this uneven recovery from the Great Recession. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) objects to both the higher revenue projection and these additional state investments.”

The Legislature’s budget, he said, is likely to include:

  • $40 million to fund full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented children and possibly some undocumented adults;
  • A rollback of some of the 10% Medi-Cal provider payment reduction passed in 2011;
  • Restoration of adult dental services in Medi-Cal, which had been eliminated in 2009;
  • Restoration of other 2009 reductions in Medi-Cal services, including acupuncture, audiology, podiatry and speech therapy;
  • Restoration of school-based dental services;
  • A hike in provider payment rates for community-based services for Californians with developmental disabilities; and
  • Overtime pay for In-Home Supportive Services providers as well as home health workers.

Graves said the governor is opposed to all of those developments and may veto some or all of them. After today, trailer bills still can be negotiated, so Graves said Californians should brace for a power struggle through the rest of the month.

“The Legislature and the governor have yet to find common ground on various budget decisions related to essential health and human services,” Graves said.

The budget deadline is Monday.

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