Newsom’s first budget puts health care access, costs front and center

January 10, 2019
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Public Health 

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Gavin Newsom released his first state budget proposal on Thursday, including a number of new goals and programs aimed at making health care more affordable and accessible to all Californians.

The governor is following through on a key campaign promise by investing more than $1 billion in Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenue to increase access for Medi-Cal patients. That investment will help make it easier for low-income patients throughout California to see a physician and make Medi-Cal coverage more meaningful and effective for patients. 

Much of Newsom’s health care focus aims at low- and middle-income residents. His spending blueprint boosts overall state general fund spending on Medi-Cal by $2.2 billion.

Some of that increased spending is due to the state paying a larger share of Medi-Cal coverage for single adults, but Newsom also introduced some new programs under the Medi-Cal umbrella. The governor proposed spending up to $194 million in state general fund revenue to expand Medi-Cal eligibility to about 138,000 undocumented adults aged 19-25. California currently pays for coverage of undocumented children up to age 19. 

Newsom’s proposal also includes plans to expand subsidies to middle-class Californians who receive coverage under the state’s health care exchange, Covered California. Currently, subsidies are available to individuals making up to $48,000 per year. Newsom’s plan would offer subsidized premiums to individuals making up to $75,000 per year, or families with a joint income of $150,000.

In addition to these new investments, Newsom is also making sustained commitments to increasing the number of physicians in California to address the state’s physician shortage and the need to have highly trained, quality physicians in every part of the state. 

“Gov. Newsom’s budget sets ambitious goals to expand access to care for millions of Californians who still do not have the ability to see a physician or medical professional when they need one,” said California Medical Association (CMA) President David H. Aizuss, M.D. “We look forward to working with the administration and legislature to help bring down health care costs and improve health care access and quality for all Californians.”

Earlier this week, the governor outlined some of these programs in an executive order. In that order, Newsom also called for California to create a prescription drug bulk-purchasing plan, and to create a new state Surgeon General position to focus on public health issues.


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