Bracing for Budget Approval

In legislative terms, the last two weeks of subcommittee hearings were “lightning quick,” as Jean Ross of the California Budget Project put it.

The Senate and Assembly subcommittees for Health and Human Services listened to presentations and comment on sweeping changes to social service programs. Any one of those changes would normally go through a lengthy review process, but lengthy is a luxury in a budget that needs to be approved by March, just seven weeks after it was proposed.

This week, those subcommittees are expected to wrap up the business of reviewing roughly $12 billion in cuts, about half of that coming from health-related services and programs.

“We’re looking at very tough decisions from health and human services,” Assembly member Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) said.

They include:

  • Putting a hard cap on the number of provider visits allowed for Medi-Cal patients at 10 per year;
  • Capping the number of prescriptions allowed under Medi-Cal to six a month;
  • Increasing Medi-Cal co-payments to $5 per office visit, $50 for every emergency room visit, $100 a day with a maximum of $200 for hospitalization;
  • Eliminating the Adult Day Health Services program;
  • Scaling back hours of care allowed for In-Home Supportive Services;
  • Cutting $1.5 billion from the CalWORKS program;
  • Shifting about $1 billion of First Five money to Medi-Cal;
  • Cutting transportation rates for hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies by 10%;
  • Increasing premiums and co-pays, eliminating vision care in the Healthy Families program; and
  • Cutting some funding for mental health services and for the developmentally disabled.

The Senate Health and Human Services subcommittee meets Tuesday and Thursday. The Assembly HHS subcommittee is scheduled to meet Thursday.

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