Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Conference Committee Actions on Health - Continued

Day 12 of the Conference Committee completed our initial actions on the health budget. We also began on the budget relating to human services.

Some of the program eliminations and reductions proposed in the governor’s revised budget within health and human services will end up costing the state more in the long run and could endanger the lives of the most vulnerable people in the state. Consider these examples:
· Eliminating health care services for the poor will undermine the readiness of our emergency rooms across the state because more Californians will use them for medical care; and
· Restricting in-home supportive services eligibility from the current level of nearly 430,000 clients will increase California’s reliance on nursing home care at significantly higher cost.

As we move forward with making more decisions, the challenge is finding a way to make cuts that are not penny wise but pound foolish. Some cuts will result in a loss of matching federal dollars, which results in a larger economic impact of jobs and commerce lost in local communities. Many cuts disproportionately impact women, children and seniors in multiple ways. Conferees are grappling with these challenges as we try to find the cuts that result in the least amount of harm to individuals needing services and our state’s well being overall.

Here is a sample of the decisions made by the Conference Committee today. The impacts are a mixed bag of good and bad:
· Women’s Health – Approved $13.8 million for breast cancer early detection for uninsured Californians. Rejected the governor’s proposal to eliminate all $20.4 million in funding for domestic violence shelters in favor of a 20 percent reduction.
· Children’s Dental Care – Approved the governor’s proposal to save $2.9 million by suspending dental disease program, serving 300,000 school kids in 30 counties
· Mental Health – Approved governor’s proposal to eliminate mental health services other than federally required inpatient hospitalization and medication services for a savings of $113 million.

Overall, the Conference Committee has now taken actions which amount to approximately $800 million in cuts or budget savings within the health budget.

The conference committee agendas for health and human services can be found online at the Assembly Budget Committee website at http://www.asm.ca.gov/budget under the “Conference Agenda” tab.