CHHS Daily News
The Legislative Analyst’s Office believes lawmakers should reject Gov. Gavin Newsom’s expiration dates for several health and safety net programs, saying that the state can safely spend that money into the foreseeable future and still maintain budget surpluses.
The Democratic governor has proposed higher spending for Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services, health insurance subsidies and developmental service providers — but with the catch that they end in 2021 or 2022. Newsom said the state could only afford to increase such spending on a temporary basis because his Department of Finance predicts greater economic risks in the future.
However, in its recent report, the nonpartisan LAO takes a less conservative view of future budgets and sees higher revenues in the next several years, as well as less spending on health and human services than Finance predicts. It says the sunsets proposed by Newsom would “not be necessary.”
But Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer pushed back Monday, saying “Our focus is to maintain structural balance over a multiyear period and these sunset mechanisms are an important part of that.” He pointed to the potential for market volatility and the length of the current economic expansion, as well potential cuts in federal funding, as budget risks.
Lawmakers, including some Republicans, in the case of IHSS, have already criticized the idea that the state might expand or maintain funding for such programs only to pull the plug in a couple years. They also take issue with Newsom giving only a couple years for tax exemptions for diapers and menstrual products, a short length of time to which the LAO previously objected.
The Analyst’s Office also believes the Legislature should not devote surplus money to paying down special fund loans or reversing accounting maneuvers. While those moves clean up the books and Newsom says it builds “budget resilience,” the LAO suggests they are not so useful should the state face another deficit.
First, to take advantage of them in a deficit, state leaders would have to use the same accounting maneuvers that got them into this situation. And the LAO believes lawmakers should sock the money away in reserves instead.
A Senate bill that initially would have expanded Medi-Cal to all low-income undocumented adults has been amended to include just young adults and seniors, reflecting the first major change to the Legislature’s coverage expansion proposals.
CA SB29 (19R) was amended by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week to specify that undocumented residents between ages 19 to 25, and 65 and older, could enroll in Medi-Cal should they meet income requirements. The amendments would also expand future eligibility by one year annually, starting with age 26 in 2020, then age 27 in 2021 and so on.
The changes are the latest attempt by Democratic lawmakers to forge a compromise acceptable to their caucuses and Gov. Gavin Newsom ahead of next Friday’s house-of-origin deadline.
Newsom has expressed deep skepticism over expanding Medi-Cal eligibility beyond age 25 for undocumented adults. He has voiced concern several times in recent weeks about the steep $3 billion price tag of covering all adults. He hasn’t shifted his position, despite calls for him to go further as he rallied in Los Angeles last week in support of his skimpier proposal.
Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), the author of S.B. 29, told POLITICO Monday that she has not gotten any indication that the governor is willing to budge. But she suggested he’d be failing on his universal health care pledge if he didn’t go further.
“The governor’s commitment to make sure that all Californians are insured is not going to work if it excludes half the uninsured population,” Durazo said outside the Capitol, as dozens of “Health4All” supporters rallied for a suite of bills to protect undocumented residents. “If he’s committed to that the way he says he is, then we have to do far more.”
An estimated 1.8 million undocumented adults are lack coverage in California — comprising the majority of the state’s 3 million remaining uninsured. Expanding full Medi-Cal coverage to young adults and seniors would cost far less than covering all adults — nearly $373 million in the first year, according to a Senate Appropriations Committee analysis of the bill — but it would leave out the largest segment of the state’s undocumented population, estimated at about 1 million people.
Durazo said the amendments “are a good start this year,” but she said expanding coverage only by a one-year age bracket one year at a time would not be sufficient.
“Year-by-year isn’t a good plan to get to everyone because it would take 40 years to get to age 65,” she said. “We’ve got to have a smarter plan or we will bear the burden as taxpayers.”
The Assembly version of the bill, CA AB4 (19R), still proposes full coverage for all adults.
The Wall Street Journal
Governor wants state to cover only those under 26, while legislators push to provide Medicaid to all.
The Associated Press
Lilian Serrano’s mother-in-law had lots of stomach problems, but she always blamed food.
The Desert Sun
Two proposals to offer health coverage to all undocumented residents passed major hurdles in the California Legislature on Thursday, but might not have the financial backing to cross the finish line.
California lawmakers are weighing proposals this week that would offer government-funded health care to adult illegal immigrants but are at odds over how far to go.
California Democrats are squaring off this week over how many of the states’ illegal immigrants should be eligible for publicly funded health care.
Private insurers paid California hospitals more than two times as much as Medicare for similar services in 2015 and 2016, according to a study published Monday by West Health Policy Center.
Becker’s Hospital Review
Hospitals in California were paid, on average, 209 percent as much as Medicare by private health insurers in 2015-16, according to research firm West Health Policy Center.
The Press Democrat
The union representing Kaiser Permanente mental health workers is accusing the major health care provider of cutting corners on initial mental health patient evaluations, resulting in rushed and inadequate care, misdiagnoses and long waits for follow-up care.
San Francisco Chronicle
A law that would allow San Francisco to expand involuntary treatment for the city’s mentally ill population is on thin ice, and it’s unclear if it has the votes to pass the full Board of Supervisors next month.
San Francisco Chronicle
Out in the Ingleside district sits a little yellow house where Melanie Brandt lives with roommates. She gardens out back and manages to communicate a little with her Cantonese-speaking neighbors over the fence.
A physician, an advocate, a public health specialist, a suicide-attempt survivor and a California state lawmaker gathered in downtown Sacramento today to offer their diagnosis of the state’s mental health system.
California Health Report
Marilyn Espinoza of Los Angeles wouldn’t dream of missing a well-child visit for her son, 1-year-old Matthew Perez. Whenever she has a concern about Matthew’s health, she brings it up during his well-child appointment at QueensCare Health Clinic in Hollywood.
A California chain of faith-based clinics is suing HHS, claiming it can’t administer more than $5 million in federal family planning funds because current program rules infringe on its First Amendment rights.
Los Angeles Times
Even through the pain of a burst appendix just weeks before election day, Katie Porter made sure her campaign manager took her to Hoag Hospital in Irvine — and not to a closer hospital — because she knew the emergency room was in her insurance network.
The Sacramento Bee
A Fair Oaks elementary school is “back in action” Monday morning after numerous confirmed cases of norovirus closed the school last Wednesday through Friday.
Measles are back in Butte County as of Monday morning. Butte County Public Health officials were optimistic last week in hopes we’ve see the last of the measles virus in the county.
The Wall Street Journal
The number of new U.S. measles cases continued to grow last week but at a slower pace, with the total now at 880 in 24 states so far this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.
The New York Times
Warming weather usually slows transmission of the virus, but it is not clear that this outbreak is fading, experts said.
Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday is scheduled to be in Oakland and promised in a news release to make a “major announcement” in the state’s effort to address the homelessness crisis.
Understanding why living on the street seems to cause rapid aging could help homeless people — and governments.
Across California, at least 20 companies providing care for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill continue to operate illegally after being cited for failing to pay their workers more than $1.4 million in back wages and penalties.
For the first time in 40 years, Santa Clara County will provide CalFresh food assistance for its residents on SSI/SSP programs.
New changes are coming to California’a Calfresh food program. Starting this summer California recipients of Supplemental Security Income, known as SSI, will now be eligible to get Calfresh food benefits.
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
San Mateo Daily Journal
Child care is becoming more accessible in San Mateo through a loan program from city officials designed to assist providers needing additional funding to expand their capacity.
Local elected officials on Monday called for additional resources from the federal government to help deal with hundreds of migrant families expected to be flown to San Diego from Texas in the coming weeks.