Latest News On State Budgets

Latest California Healthline Stories

Transparency Sought for Health Care Department

One of a few bills still making its way through the committee process at the end of the California Legislature session seeks to bring a higher level of transparency to the Department of Health Care Services.

California Budget Puts Some Health Care Issues on Hold

State Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, considered a champion in many health care camps, acknowledged this year’s state budget fell short in a couple health care arenas, but he said the plan puts the state in a good position to increase health care spending in the future.

Autism Therapy Out of the Budget

Several health care provisions were conspicuously absent from the Legislative Budget Conference Committee’s budget agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown announced yesterday. The plan has no mention of repealing a 10% Medi-Cal provider rate cut nor a plan to fund autism services.

The agreement omitted a proposal to set aside $50 million in general fund money to pay for autism services. When matched with federal dollars, the state would have had $100 million to help pay for autism treatment, including applied behavioral analysis therapy, known as ABA therapy.

Whether ABA therapy will be covered as an essential health benefit starting in 2014 is still up in the air, but yesterday advocates were assuming the worst.

Protesters Swarm Sacramento to Protest Medi-Cal Cuts

The Capitol yesterday swarmed with protesters upset about a 10% cut in reimbursements to Medi-Cal providers  that has raised concerns about the state’s ability to provide access to Medicaid beneficiaries.

“Health care, especially in the hospitals, it’s not always working,” said Sonia De La Torre, a hospital worker who got on a bus at 4 a.m. yesterday in Corona (Riverside County) to attend the Sacramento rally. “When people come into the hospital with no insurance, they get basic care, at best. We want to make sure people get treatment.”

Police estimated 8,000 people gathered outside the Capitol Building yesterday. Musicians took the main stage early in the day, replaced later by speakers including event organizers and legislators.

State Still Looks to Dun County Funds in Medi-Cal Expansion Proposal

The optional expansion of Medi-Cal will be administered using a state-based approach rather than the county-based plan being considered by California officials, the governor said yesterday when he proposed his May revise, the mid-year revision of the state budget.

That comes as welcome news to county health officials who have cautioned for months that a county-based system would be more confusing and costly than a state-based approach.

Gov. Jerry Brown listened, apparently.

“We want to do it generously, and boldly,” Brown said of the optional expansion. “There are some questions out there, so we want to do it prudently. It’s a matter of equity, and it’s something we’ll work out over the next few years.”

Attorney: Decision Overdue In Suit Challenging Medi-Cal Disabled Cuts

A federal judge is “about to decide” a case with large ramifications for the developmentally disabled community. William McLaughlin, an attorney representing The Arc of California, a national disabled-rights group, said a final ruling from U.S. District Court judge Morrison England is coming “any time now.”

In a Jan. 24 hearing, McLaughlin argued for a preliminary injunction to halt the rate reductions. He contends a decision is overdue.

“We have not obtained any injunctive relief so far,” McLaughlin said, though a federal judge had issued a stay for a period of time. That stay was lifted by Judge England in August, which means providers have been absorbing the cuts since then. And not very well, McLaughlin said.

Spring Recess Gives Way to Spring Work

The California Legislature yesterday returned to work after a 10-day spring recess. A small mountain of bills is in front of lawmakers who have until May 31 to pass bills off the floor.

Health care legislation up for discussion includes:

Douglas Updates Legislators on Health System Changes

California’s health care system is undergoing its biggest changes in almost 50 years. Toby Douglas, director of the agency at the eye of the health care storm, updated legislators on the progress of some of the changes in a hearing last week in Sacramento.