There’s apparently a budget deal among the legislative leadership, both Democrat and Republican, Senate and Assembly. The question is whether the rank-and-file legislators go along. If they do, a vote can come as early as Monday, although it might be later, as they get the paperwork in order.
There is no breakthrough or celebration here. The proposed budget cuts would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from California’s hospitals, clinics and providers, and deny coverage to over a quarter-million children. It makes these cuts, but worse, the proposal apparently does not balance these cuts with the taxes needed to prevent future cuts.
Speaking of paperwork, no one has seen any actual budget. The immediate cuts in the budget deal are expected to include:
• increased reporting (every six months in Medi-Cal) with the purpose of having over 250,000 children lose coverage.
• increased Healthy Families premiums.
• delayed restoration of the 10 percent Medi-Cal provder rate, leading to a loss of hundreds of millions of federal matching funds.
These are severe cuts that will hurt not just hundreds of thousands of patients, but our state’s health system and our economy.
Some may say that the cuts could have been worse, and that’s certainly true. But the proposed budget fails to fix the ongoing budget crisis; it places health and other vital services at even more risk in future years. This is a cut-and-run budget, but like any bad slasher movie, it comes with the certainty of a worse movie next year, with more cuts. Given the gimmicks used, there will be more pressure on the general fund, starting immediately and into the future, to make cuts to health and human services.
As we get more information about this, we’ll publish it, but the outlines don’t look good for health care, now or in the future. It hardly meets the test of a fair budget, a compassionate budget, or a budget that includes a long-term fix for the future.