May 18, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy
On May 14, Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget for fiscal year 2015-16, which includes an increase in overall expenditures from the General Fund to $115.3 billion, but does not include any significant increases to Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates. Overall, the revised plan contains $169 billion in total state spending, up from $164.7 billion in January. The total includes $46.9 billion in special funds and $6.8 billion in bond funds.
The California Medical Association and other stakeholders continue to point out that beneficiaries of the Medi-Cal program are having trouble accessing needed care. Despite these concerns, the Governor is proposing an additional $200 million to provide full-scope Medi-Cal coverage, in-home supportive services and other benefits for the individuals who are covered by President Obama’s executive orders relating to undocumented immigrants. Under existing California law, an individual who is lawfully present in the state is entitled to certain health and social services, but the May budget revision assumes the legal challenges surrounding the President’s actions will ultimately be upheld.
The Brown budget estimates that the Medi-Cal program will serve 12.4 million people by the middle of 2016, an increase of 200,000 people since January and includes an additional $2.9 billion, split evenly between the state and the federal government, which would cover the enrollment increase. Brown also includes costs ($14 billion) for adults without children and parents/caretakers with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. However, currently, the cost for this population has been financed entirely by the federal government (until the 2016-17 fiscal year).
The budget revision will open weeks of negotiations at the Capitol before adoption of a spending plan in June. By law, the budget must be passed by the Legislature by June 15.
Major spending initiatives outlined by the Governor outside of health care include an increase in the state’s deposit into the Rainy Day Fund to $633 million; an additional $633 million to pay down existing debts and liabilities; the creation of the California Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income Californians, at the cost of $380 million to the state; increases to the Proposition 98 General Fund spending by $5.5 billion for K-12 schools and community colleges; an increase of 4 percent for each of the next four years and additional funding to help with University of California employee pension obligations, in exchange for the UC agreeing to cap tuition for in-state students; and an additional $2.2 billion of one-time funding to continue the state’s response to drought impacts program.
Click here to read more about Brown’s budget.