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New budget deal proposal sparks healthcare debate in California

On Thursday, the governor and legislative leaders presented a new budget deal, which included a proposal to shift all 880,000 children currently enrolled in the state’s Healthy Families program to Medi-Cal. The attempt to close California’s projected $15.7 billion budget deficit also includes a reduction in childcare assistance and college aid.

Democratic legislators argue that the budget will provide an economic safety net for California. In an effort to stabilize the economy, they have also proposed a tax hike initiative that would raise sales and income taxes on high-income residents.

Republican lawmakers feel the shift from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal is unsafe for children and believe it will not provide any significant spending reductions. They are concerned about a lack of transparency in the budget process and feel the public should have more time to assess the budget before it is voted upon.

Leading healthcare coalitions and advocates are also uneasy about the welfare of current Healthy Families beneficiaries and are fearful about the implications of the budget plan, if passed. The shift could jeopardize beneficiaries’ access to providers and severely limit preventive care. This, in turn, could lead to more money being spent on emergency care services in the long run. The overarching concern among advocates in the state is maintaining access to services for this population.

Voting is scheduled to take place next week before the start of the fiscal year on July 1. Continue to check the ITUP blog for details as they develop.

For further details on the budget plan, view this article on California Healthline.

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