On Thursday, California's two-house budget conference committee approved a spending plan that includes deep cuts to health and human services programs, clearing the way for Assembly and Senate floor votes that could take place next week, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Republicans on the conference committee voted for some, but not all, of the proposed spending cuts and program changes included in the budget plan.
Democrats said they moved outside their comfort zone to pass cuts to social service programs (Siders, Sacramento Bee, 3/4).
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) praised lawmakers for making "some bold decisions" on the budget (Goldmacher, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/3). The governor set next Thursday as the deadline to approve a spending plan so his tax extension measure could go before voters in a June special election.
Lawmakers on the conference committee rejected Brown's plan to limit physician visits to 10 annually for beneficiaries of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program. Instead, lawmakers approved a "soft cap" of seven annual visits that could be waived if patients obtain physician certification stating that additional visits are necessary (Williams/Lin, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/3).
Lawmakers also voted to eliminate all but $85 million of the state's $176 million adult day health care program. They said the $85 million would go toward launching a new health services program for low-income, disabled and elderly adults.
In addition, the conference committee's budget plan would:
- Cut $486 million from the state's In-Home Supportive Services program, partly by requiring certification that the in-home care is needed;
- Cut an additional $50 million from services for residents with developmental disabilities, on top of the $527 million in cuts already agreed upon (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/4);
- Reduce grant levels for the state's CalWORKS welfare-to-work program by 8%, instead of the 13% reduction proposed by Brown (Sacramento Bee, 3/4).
Some advocates blasted the deep health care cuts approved by the joint committee.
Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, said, "It's hard to overstate the severity of health cuts in the budget, as they will be felt directly by hundreds of thousands of patients, by the over 8 million Californians with Medi-Cal or Healthy Families coverage, and by all of us who want our health system to be there for us when we need it" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/4).
On Friday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the conference committee's vote and efforts to put the tax extension measure before voters (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 3/4).