On February 18, California’s Assembly Committee and Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee approved nearly identical state budget plans, which nearly mirror Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan proposed almost two months ago.
Brown’s proposal would reduce spending by $12.5 billion and temporarily extend tax increases, implemented by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to accrue $12 billion in state revenues. One element of Brown’s plan both the Senate and Assembly rejected was the elimination of the state’s adult day health care program.
According to the state’s Department of Aging, this community-based program provides health, therapeutic and social services to the elderly through more than 300 centers across the state. The Senate plan would instead cut $151 million in spending for the program, while the Assembly chose to plan $28 million in cuts.
The plans also did not include all of Brown’s proposed cuts to California’s Medicaid program – Medical and In-Home Support Services. Both committees approved mandatory co-payments for Medical beneficiaries, with Senate analysis showing a savings of about $584 million if implemented.
The co-pays would look like this: $3-$5 for some prescription drugs, $5 for doctor and dentist visits, $50 for emergency room visits and a maximum of $200 for hospital stays. The co-pays amount would be taken out of the current amount the state pays healthcare providers, a move they have taken issue with.
If consumers cannot pay these co-pays, providers may face higher costs. The two plans are currently under examination by a joint legislative conference committee to work out the differences.
Brown has said he hopes a final spending proposal will be available by March 10.