Saturday, May 30, 2009

California Budget Deficit Carving Into Health Care
Story from San Fancisco Chronicle

As the budget deficit widens, here's where additional health cuts are expected:

If your toddler gets into the medicine cabinet, no one will answer the phone at Poison Control (all state funding eliminated).

Maybe someone in your family has been laid off - more than 300,000 children lost health insurance in the last year and a half. In response, we're going to add another 225,000 children of working families to that burgeoning number (by cutting existing Healthy Families coverage - $54.5 million).

Maybe your mom with dementia has been beggared by medical bills - the family home sold, not a penny left. Unfortunately, your chances of finding a nursing home that will take Medi-Cal just went from slim to practically none ($750 million in proposed cuts plus an increase of $18.3 million in nursing home fees). But your mom's home assistance and adult day services (which you depend on to hold down your own job) got slashed ($326.5 million).

Or maybe you're doing OK but are downright furious at the homeless people shooting up on the corner. Unfortunately, we're gutting funding for one of the few things that works: substance-abuse treatment ($116.8 million).

Child welfare will be cut, and we're even going so far as to literally take clothes away from children in group and foster homes ($83.9 million).

Widespread reports of wives and children slaughtered by husbands will increase. We're cutting $20.4 million in domestic-violence funds for emergency shelters and restraining orders.

All these problems won't go away. They'll end up jamming emergency rooms, hospitals and possibly prisons, costing us much more in pure dollar amounts. We've even cut funding for family planning services for the poor ($36.8 million).

In contrast, only 5,000 state employees (out of 110,000) are targeted for layoffs, and there are no absolute dollar cuts for prison services (only anticipated savings).

You could argue that the governor and Legislature have spent the last months re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Now Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revised budget spells out that, in California, when push comes to shove, children, women and the frail are the first to get tossed overboard. No lifeboats for them.

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