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NEWS BULLETIN

Final Budget Funds Medi-Cal Expansion, Fails to Restore Recession’s Deep Cuts

On Friday, June 20th, Governor Jerry Brown signed the $156.3 billion FY 2014-15 budget. The budget includes state spending for the Medi-Cal program to accommodate the successful outreach and enrollment efforts that have resulted in over a million new enrollees into the program, a majority from communities of color. The budget expands full-scope Medi-Cal to pregnant women while also restoring $4 million to the Black Infant Health Program, which provides pregnant mothers with health education, social support, and other services. The budget also removes the lifetime ban on CalWORKS/CalFRESH for people with felony drug convictions which will help to improve access to economic support services for this vulnerable population.

However, the budget misses an important opportunity to restore previous cuts to the Medi-Cal program and to strengthen safety net services for the remaining uninsured. Specifically, the budget fails to restore Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates, already some of the lowest in the country, at a time when enrollment in the Medi-Cal program has increased by 2 million individuals. This lack of funding could result in a shortage of available providers to treat the newly insured. The final budget also does not accept $6 million in grant funding offered by The California Endowment, which would have brought federal matching funds to assist individuals with their Medi-Cal renewals. Additionally, the budget fails to restore optional benefits in Medi-Cal, such as podiatry and optometry, and continues to redirect funds from county safety-net systems used to pay for indigent care.

The budget sets aside $1.6 billion towards a Rainy Day Fund. A referendum on the ballot this November would create a constitutional amendment to the Rainy Day Fund that could further complicate the budget process by requiring savings even during future economic downturns. This would make it harder to restore cuts to key safety net programs like Medi-Cal. To view the full final budget, visit the Department of Finance's website.

For a more detailed breakdown of the budget, please visit the Policy Center on our website.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Cary Sanders at csanders@cpehn.org.

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