Health Reform Law Could Limit Calif.'s Proposed Program Cuts

Provisions in the new national health care reform law could make it difficult for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to follow through on some of his proposed cuts to state health insurance programs to rein in California's mounting $20 billion budget deficit, New America Media reports.

The health care reform law includes a "maintenance of effort" provision requiring states to maintain their Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program, and Healthy Families is the state's CHIP program.

Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating several social service programs, including Healthy Families, unless the federal government provides the state with an additional $7 billion. So far, the federal government has pledged only $3 billion.

If Schwarzenegger attempts to follow through with his proposed cuts, California would have to forgo all federal Medicaid funding, amounting to billions of dollars annually, according to Kelly Hardy, policy director for the national advocacy group Children Now.

Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers are examining the new federal law to determine what it will mean for the state financially.

At a press conference last week, Schwarzenegger said, "My concern about the federal government's health care reform is only how do we fund it, because they have shifted the funding from the federal government and ... it will cost us $3 billion more."

Financial Help

Health Access Executive Director Anthony Wright said that federal health care reform will benefit, not burden, the state. He said, "The federal government will, over the course of the next 10 years, provide $33 billion to help cover low-income Californians."

Under the new law, the federal government will cover 100% of the cost of new Medi-Cal beneficiaries for the first three years, gradually reducing its share to 90% by 2020. In addition, the federal government will increase its share of funding for Healthy Families to 88%, 23% more than its current share.

The state might receive additional assistance from an extension of a provision in the 2009 federal economic stimulus package that increased the federal matching funding for Medi-Cal from 50-50 to 60-40 (Nguyen, New America Media, 3/29).

James Roache
In response to Ms Powell, I too am born and rasised in CA, south-central LA to be exact. You've missed the point. Thanks to the feds ineptness to enforece our borders, the CA taxpayer is paying the tab for those who come here illegally and overrun our medical infrastructure. These well-meaning people have chosen to usurp our laws and will not accept personal responsibility for their own health or healthcare. (Look at any McDonalds). As a healthcare provider I know from first hand experience what happens to the availability of quality healthcare when providers chose to leave the system in order to remain viable. Everyone suffers in the long run. Again, a high price to pay for a new set of votes. I would ask you Ms Powelll, did you view: http://www.youtube.com /watch?v=n7WJeqxuOfQ
Anne Powell
Born & raised in California, I couldn't DISAGREE MORE w/ JRoache's conclusions! Political unwillingness to accept their presence only makes health care access--especially emergency services--worse for everyone. Further, premise that this group is overrunning health care settings ignores that millions of Californians use ERs for primary care b/c they have no health insurance. AND is in our collective best interests to prevent spread communicable diseases like TB, and treat illnesses in early stage. Since undocumented residents are here, cannot ignore BOTH their and other uninsured residents' health care needs. Our unwillingness to provide basic public health and primary care leads to increased insurance premiums for the insured, as providers shift uncompensated costs to paying sources, or close their doors -- as some ERs have done. A more PRODUCTIVE ANSWER to challenge is to promote a HEALTHIER ECONOMY so we can each buy our own insurance--not railing AGAINST others
James Roache
I believe there is no doubt in anyone's minds that the California taxpayer is footing the bill for the feds failure to control our border to the south. As a result, our hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics, all areas of patient care are overrun by those that imigrate here illegally. Now that the illegal immigrants has established themselves here politically, I believe the feds come close to extorting Califronia taxpayers by threatening to take away funds for the existing programs. As a healthcare provider and taxpayer, I have to say "No" to any cuts by the feds and they should held accountable to pay the price for their past and present policies of not enforcing their immigration laws. To take it out on the American citizen and taxpayer in a manner to cordon off a new group of voters is both immoral and unforgivable. If we wish to giveaway healthcare dollars, do it through the WHO and Mexican government in their own land. You must watch http://www.youtube.com /watch?v=n7WJeqxuOfQ

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