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Advocates: Raise Revenues to Pay for Health Services

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Frank Smith is confined to a wheelchair. He has cerebral palsy, which also makes speech difficult. Those limitations could not keep the Chico man from a Capitol hallway just from where Governor Brown was proposing an almost eight and a half percent cut to pay for the in-home care services (IHSS) Smith needs.  

"They are taking away money from me, and people like me," says Smith.

Smith says the proposal would take away money from people like him to help pay for independent living services.

More than 4,000 Californians are dependent on in home support services.

Governor Brown says the cuts are painful, but necessary, as the state faces a 25 billion dollar budget shortfall.  Smith, along with a coalition of groups like Health Access, the California Primary Care Association, and the HHS Network are calling on the governor to increase revenue to pay for health care services.

The HHS Network would like oil drilling to be taxed, and corporate loopholes closed.

In a statement, Anthony Wright of the group Health Access wrote:

"If we don't find additional revenues to prevent them, these cuts will harm the health of individual families, our health system on which we all rely, and our attempts at economic recovery. At a time when millions are looking for relief, these cuts will deny medically necessary care, place greater financial strain on families, and turn back hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching funds for our economy."

As Governor Brown looks to reduce IHSS services, he also wants to cap the total dollar amount available for certain Medi-Cal services, such as hearing aids, prescriptions and wound care. Currently, there are no caps. Medi-Cal beneficiaries who receive treatment would also pay a share of their costs up to 200 dollars. Medi-Cal patients who can't pay would be denied services and referred to local indigent programs.   

Carmella Castellano Garcia heads the California Primary Care Association, and she says the cuts could place an outsized burden on local community health clinics.

"We are concerned with these forms of cuts, we will continue to see clinics close and people lose access to health care," Castellano Garcia says.

Most of the significant changes to Medi-Cal must be approved by the federal government.  In the next fiscal year, if no changes are made, Medi-Cal programs are expected to cost the state more than 17 billion dollars.

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