Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access WeBlog and is a regular contributor here, as well.
For those who have any doubt about the need for state aid in the economic recovery package, consider what California is contemplating. In the negotiations about our budget crisis, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to deny Medicaid coverage to over a half-million Californians, largely low-income working parents.
The state would lower our eligibility for parents from the poverty level ($18,000 for a family of three) to 72 percent of the poverty level (around $13,000). Think about that: A working mother of two making $15,000 would be too rich to get public health coverage. A parent working more than 100 hours a month--that is, about three weeks--would be denied coverage.
Another proposed cut would deny the 3 million California adults on Medicaid about ten benefits--including dental, podiatry, psychology and optometry.
Lest you think that these are idle threats, let me spotlight one particularly cynical cut made last year: imposing additional reporting requirements on families. By doubling the reporting requirements from every year to every six months, California will actually increase administrative costs. But it expects to “save” much more since some families will likely not comply with the new paperwork burden. In all, more than 250,000 children are expected to fall off the rolls.