[May 14, 2013] SACRAMENTO – The following statement on Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget was issued by Dave Regan, President of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), on behalf of We Care for California, a broad new coalition of hospitals, doctors, dentists, workers, insurers, and first-responders.
“Governor Jerry Brown’s inclusion of deep Medi-Cal cuts in his revised budget is an ill-timed move that will hurt the poorest and most vulnerable patients in California, compromise access to quality health care, and put the brakes on a recovering economy.
“Economic conditions have shown encouraging signs of revival, with billions of dollars in new revenue. The governor’s proposed cuts, totaling $1 billion to Medi-Cal providers, come at the worst possible time, when California is working to successfully implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These cuts will undermine those efforts to carry out federal reform, and will have devastating consequences for patients and communities that count on affordable, quality health care.
“The cuts would affect both existing patients as well as the 900,000 children moving from the Healthy Families program into Medi-Cal this year. And millions more who will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal under ACA would also be impacted.
“One in five Californians currently receive health insurance through the Medi-Cal program. Starving the program of needed funding penalizes all Californians, since costs are shifted to the private sector. That creates an upward spiral on individual premiums. In addition, a comprehensive examination of the consequences of the cuts, first outlined in AB 97 in 2011, reveals massive hits to California’s economy and its job picture.
“The worst result of these cuts is that they punish those who can afford it least. Hospital-based skilled nursing facilities face nearly a 27 percent cut in funding that would tear a hole in California’s safety net, rip families apart, and punish the sick and the elderly who depend on this specialized care. These services would be reduced or disappear, leaving taxpayers to pay for more expensive and less effective alternatives, such as acute-care units. Cutting Medi-Cal rates, already the lowest in the nation, will force many physicians to stop accepting new Medi-Cal patients just as the ACA is adding millions more to the system.
“The We Care for California Coalition supports Senate Bill (SB) 640 (Lara) and Assembly Bill (AB) 900 (Alejo), which have gained significant bipartisan support as they have moved without opposition through the legislative process. Both measures would reverse these devastating Medi-Cal cuts and avoid the destructive human cost of restricting access to expert health care.”
The We Care for California Coalition includes SEIU-UHW, the California Hospital Association, the California Medical Association, the California Association of Physician Groups, California Primary Care Association, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, the California Dental Association, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, and Molina Healthcare.