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Budget Armageddon: The California Special Election’s Impact on Health Care

Budget Armageddon: The California Special Election’s Impact on Health Care

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

California journalists, you know how the state's special election is going to turn out. Late on election night, all of the budget-related propositions - save for the one regarding lawmaker pay raises - are failing miserably. Even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger skipped town.

So, now that ticked-off voters are turning down the stopgap budget fix proposed by Schwarzenegger, the question in the coming days will be: what happens to health care?

For some possible answers, let's go back to the so-called May revise, the Governor's annual budget revision offering proposals to get the previously approved budget back in balance, depending on the state's revenues. Sometimes, some proposals to slash health spending have elicited such howls of protest from advocates and state lawmakers that they're quietly taken off the table.

Not this year.

Here are some key items from a list, prepared by the Insure the Uninsured Project, of the proposed cuts that could take place now that the voters have turned down the stopgap budget measures. Any one of them is a story in itself, and I'll write more in an upcoming post about how cover the impact of such cuts in your community.

  • New legal immigrants benefits reduced to emergency only services (kids and pregnant women exempted -- $125 million
  • Cut in private hospital reimbursements (comparable to already-passed cuts for public hospitals) -- $20 million
  • Reduce provider reimbursement rates for family planning -- $37 million
  • Seek authority from the federal government to cut Medi-Cal (eligibility, rates and benefits) -- $750 million
  • 10% rate reduction for Medi-Cal drug treatment services -- $9 million
  • Reduce Healthy Families eligibility from 250% to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (i.e. $50,000 for a family of four to $40,000 for family of four) -- $54 million
  • Reduce Adult Day Health to three times a week -- $25 million
  • Cut funding for local health care groups that provide HIV education and prevention -- $24.6 million
  • Suspend children's dental disease prevention -- $3 million
  • Shift Prop 99 funds into Medi-Cal (impacts AIM, MRMIP, clinics, counties, breast cancer detection) -- $60 million

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