This evening, the California Legislature approved major cuts to health and human services, including $1.6 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal. The votes for AB97, the health care trailer bill which detailed the cuts, were bipartisan and well over the majority need: 36 out of 40 votes in the Senate; 56 out of 80 votes in the Assembly.
Fully understanding the magnitude of the budget crisis, this is a sad day for California. These cuts will impose costs and reduce access care to over eight million Californians with Medi-Cal or Healthy Families coverage. These severe cuts make it harder for our health system to be there for us when we need it. Because of these cuts passed with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, California is a less healthy, less caring, less secure state tonight.
The impact of these cuts will be significant, to the health of individual families, our health system on which we all rely, and our attempts at economic recovery. At a time of economic distress in California, these cuts will put administrative and financial barriers to care, place greater fiscal strain on families, and turn away hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds for our economy.”
A full fact sheet detailing the cuts is on the front page of our website. Some specific cuts approved tonight include:
· CAP ON DOCTOR VISITS: Limit access to doctor visits for 7.7 million Californians on Medi-Cal including millions of low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities and chronic illness, including:
o Limit doctor/clinic visits to 7/year, unless certified as meeting specific criteria by a physician
· INCREASED COSTS: Raise the cost of care for Medi-Cal patients, the vast majority of whom are under the poverty level and have monthly incomes below $900, and Healthy Families children up to 250% of the poverty level, including:
o $100/day for a hospital stay, up to a maximum of $200.
o $50 copayment for emergency room visits.
* Impose a $5 copayment for doctor, clinic, dental, and pharmacy visits and prescriptions in Medi-Cal.
* Eliminate coverage for over-the-counter drugs in Medi-Cal.
* Increase Healthy Families monthly premiums for families between 200 and 250 percent FPL by $18 per child, an increase of 75%, (with a family maximum of $126); and for families between 150-200% FPL by $14/child by nearly 100%.
· PROVIDER RATES: Reduce Medi-Cal provider rates by 10%, despite California having one of the lowest Medicaid provider rates in the country, and that half of doctors already don’t take Medi-Cal coverage.
· ADULT DAY HEALTH CARE: Eliminate Medi-Cal adult day health care, impacting 27,000 patients and 330 centers statewide–although replacing it with a scaled down program with half the funding.