Brown Proposes Deep Cuts to Health Care Programs

Brown Proposes Deep Cuts to Health Care Programs

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Editor’s Note: Health advocates are calling Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $12.5 billion permanent cuts to Health and Human Services programs harmful to the health and wellbeing of state residents. By making these drastic cuts, the state will also lose federal matching funds under Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, and Healthy Families, the state children’s health coverage program. NAM health editor Viji Sundaram asked Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a health care consumer advocacy coalition, to discuss the impact of Brown’s proposals.

Governor Brown proposes to slash $1.7 billion from the state’s Medi-Cal program. About 7.7 million poor Californians, including 1.7 million children, adults with disabilities, the blind and seniors, who are currently enrolled in the program, will be affected by the cuts. What are the impacts of the Medi-Cal cuts?

Wright: Cuts to Medi-Cal would force enrollees to limit doctor/clinic visits to 10 per year, reducing the number of visits Medi-Cal pays for by more than a million. By doing this, the state will save $196.5 million in 2011-2012.

It would also limit prescription drugs to six per month (only life saving drugs will be exempted). The state is expected to save $11.1 million in 2011-2012.

This means that for the sickest 10 percent of patients, their coverage will run out, and they will either no longer go to the doctor or not take prescription drugs—or face significant medical bills.

The budget also proposes to reduce by 10 percent payments to Medi-Cal providers. Even as it is, more than half of the state’s doctors refuse to see Medi-Cal patients because of low reimbursement rates. This will make it even harder to find a doctor.

The cuts will also establish spending limits on medical supplies, wound care, incontinence supplies and such durable medical equipment as wheel chairs and hearing aids.

Other Medi-Cal benefits that would be eliminated are over-the-counter cough and cold medications and nutritional supplements.

What about the Healthy Families program?

Wright: There are cuts proposed in that program as well, which covers nearly one million children of low-income families. The governor has proposed to cut $38.5 million from it.

The proposed budget would increase co-payments and monthly premiums. Additionally, about $11.3 million of the cuts will be achieved by eliminating vision care to children in the program. That will discourage scores of children from going for eye exams, which, in turn, could affect academic performance.

What, if any, impact would the cuts have on seniors?

Wright: About 27,000 seniors who currently receive services at 330 adult day health care centers statewide will no longer have access to services that allow them to continue to live in their homes, rather than end up in a nursing facility. These cuts are expected to save the state $1.5 million in the months remaining of the state budget year, 2010-2011 and $176.6 million in the next fiscal year.

You say the proposed cuts would have other impacts as well. How so?

Not only will these health cuts have impacts on the health of many Californians, they will impact the financial security of many families, who will have to pay more or find themselves uncovered for needed services.

The cuts will also have an economic impact, since every state dollar we cut means we lose another federal matching dollar or two, money that is needed for our health system and out economy. Cuts of this magnitude mean that tens of thousands of jobs will be lost.

It is appropriate that Governor Brown is putting all solutions on the table, including an extension of existing taxes, to prevent even worse cuts. But that doesn’t diminish the severity of the cuts that this budget proposes.




Posted Jan 12 2011

There is very little difference between Brown's budget proposals and previous budgets, because Brown's budget is mastered-minded by the oil industry. There is no provision for closing corporate tax loopholes, no oil extraction tax and no oil corporation, windfall profits tax. Californians pay the highest price for gasoline in the nation. Brown's budget is the same, because again, it picks on the most vulnerable. Jerry appears to be working for Big Oil and not for the Californians who voted for him.


Posted Jan 13 2011

Mr. Brown's family would never need to decide which medication is a priority or when to visit a doctor. The vulnerable would be limited to both of theses medical needs. Who determines life-saving medical treatments and life-saving medications?

As President Obama stated last night in AZ's memorial, we need to become united Americans and treat each other as family. Would Mr. Brown treat his family this way?


Posted Jan 13 2011

This is crazy, are we talking democaratic here or republican wants and do's. No matter what, itis all about the poorer keeps getting poorer. Now I would not mind the co pay to the doctor, as it was introduced previous years, but the hospital stay is rediculious. The welfare limit I can agree, but the amount is no way enough to reside in california on less on in the south. cuts to the elderly is crazy, what can these poor people who have worked all their lives have to live for now? paid their taxes and can't get the help they need, this is not GOOD!!! cutting children vision, what is going on? many kids need glasses and w/o them, they will suffer academically and fail. I think things need to be put back on the table,

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