With the state of California budget gap totaling a staggering $24 billion, Governor Schwarzenegger and other state officials face some hard decisions in order to close this gap. As lawmakers and bean counters work throughout the summer; one truth is clear, no state funded program is safe from any type of reduction or cancellation altogether.
As California continues to have a greater need for funds than they are taking in, the finance committee members are forced to play the "Rob from Peter to pay Paul" game. Among the major programs on the chopping block is the Healthy Families Insurance Program. Some 700,000 California children stand to lose the healthcare benefits they need, according to a statement released by Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.
This means if Medi-Cal has any hope of staying afloat, a solution would have to be found fast. This solution has come although it is no more than a short term stop gap to the bigger problem in the form of a bill that Ms. Bass has helped pass. The bill continues a 2.35% tax on insurance premiums for Medi-Cal managed-care plans, generating a whopping $97.5 million dollars.v In addition, with an $81 million dollar grant from the First Five California Children & Families Commission which is a state program that funds health & education for children younger than five. This draw on the FFCCFC resources has left the commission with half of its total holding which took them ten years to build. Now, they will be in less of a position to help next year. Further, officials had no choice but to increase co-pays for doctor's visits to cover the remaining costs bringing in another $17.5 million dollars.
Through hard work and tough decisions the committee was able to preserve the Healthy Families budget for now. http://online.wsj.com/article/Ryan Knutson/Oct 5, 2009