California Governor Proposes Budget That Includes Medi-Cal Cuts
CaliforniaGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Thursday proposed a $101 billion state budgetfor fiscal year 2008-2009 that would reduce funding for health care programsand other services to help close a projected $14.5 billion budget shortfall,the San Jose Mercury News reports (Zapler, San JoseMercury News, 1/11).
Under the proposed spending plan, funding for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, would bereduced by about $1 billion to $13.6 billion (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/11). However, according to the MercuryNews, actual Medi-Cal funding losses could be closer to $2 billionbecause the federal government matches state funds for the program (SanJose Mercury News, 1/11).
The proposed budget would reduce by 10% Medi-Cal reimbursement rates forphysicians and hospitals, which are already among the lowest in the nation. Inaddition, two-thirds of Healthy Families beneficiaries would pay higherpremiums under the proposal. Healthy Families is the state's version of SCHIP (Los Angeles Times, 1/11). The budget plan also callsfor eliminating some Medi-Cal services, including most dental services for thethree million adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries, and includes cuts to HIV/AIDS drugassistance and prevention programs.
Schwarzenegger's plan would require Medi-Cal beneficiaries to file incomereports every three months, and if their income or assets exceeded a maximumlevel, they would lose coverage (Fernandez, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/11). The governor also proposedimmediate cuts to Medi-Cal of about $33 million (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/11).
Schwarzenegger also proposed an across-the-board spending cut of 10% that wouldaffect nearly every state department. The cuts would generate about $9 billionin savings next year and $217 million for the rest of the current fiscal year(Yamamura/Lin, Sacramento Bee, 1/11). Schwarzenegger declared afiscal emergency, giving lawmakers until Feb. 23 to begin reducing a $3.3billion deficit for the current year before they can move to other issues oradjourn (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/11).
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