As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Governor Hoover's Plan To Weed Out The Sick

I just appeared on KPFA with Eric Klein to talk about the Governor's proposed budget cuts, along with several experts and stakeholders, including friend of Calitics Anthony Wright of Health Access California. I agree with him that it's almost hard to fathom the amount and severity of the cuts proposed for health care, especially at a time with the federal government is moving forward with a "do or die" plan to reform the health care market, increase access and lower costs. The proposed Governor Hoover cuts would have the exact opposite effect, and the people gravely impacted by this will not have the luxury of waiting around for the Feds to catch up and fill in the gaps.

Two recent CBP fact sheets help break down the Governor’s proposed cuts to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, in numbers that are easier to grasp. These fact sheets show:

More than 940,000 California children would lose health coverage if the Healthy Families Program is eliminated as the Governor proposes. More than 240,000 children in Los Angeles county alone would be affected. Want to know how many children would be impacted in your county? Check out the fact sheet to see.

In total, more than 1.9 million Californians could lose access to health coverage within three years through proposed reductions to the Medi-Cal Program and elimination of Healthy Families.

As the Governor said himself today, “behind every one of those dollars that we cut there are real faces.”

Kudos to the LA Times, by the way, for allowing the great unmentionable to get printed on their pages - the decisions made in Sacramento will truly be the difference between life and death for many Californians.

Schwarzenegger argues that the state's declining economy and plummeting tax revenues have boxed California into a corner, forcing deep and historic cuts in the health and welfare programs that form the state's social safety net. Without those tough measures, he says, California will cartwheel toward insolvency.

But a 10-person legislative budget panel, which is reviewing the governor's proposals, listened during a long day in a crowded hearing room to scores of people who said their survival depends on programs set to be hit by the budget ax.

They heard from mothers of children with autism, representatives of people on dialysis, poor parents whose children see dentists on the government's dime, former drug abusers set straight by a state rehab program.

And they heard from a woman named Lynnea Garbutt who has lived with AIDS all of her 24 years.

She has survived with the help of a state program that provides the expensive antiviral drugs she takes. Now, with that program facing elimination, she pleaded with lawmakers to save it -- and her life.

"If these cuts take place, you're not just cutting money from the program -- you're cutting my life," she told the panel, her voice shaking and tears falling. "I choose to live. Please don't make me die. My choice is life."

This is how Yacht Partier Chuck DeVore responded - move out of the state. Love it or leave it!

The cuts made to programs like Healthy Families (California's SCHIP) would eliminate federal matching funds and double or triple the scope of the cuts. And it would be one thing, by the way, if the Yacht Party simply held the line and said "we can't afford it." But no, they want to spend billions of dollars, only on their own projects instead of saving human lives.

In this article in the San Diego Union Tribune, the same Republicans (and Republican governor) who would eliminate children's health care and basic services for the neediest Californians, actually want the state to pony up the money for a water bond.

Schwarzenegger, says the article, is still fixated on a whopping $10 billion bond. And Senate Republicans are right there with him:

"Sen. Dave Cogdill of Modesto, the lead Republican on water issues, agreed. “It's obviously a tough time to bring it forward, but we can't wait,” the article notes.

We can't wait? According to my calculator, If the entire $10 billion was sold together, the interest payment could be in the neighborhood of $660 million annually. That's $660 million more that would have to come out of schools, health care, and other items on the chopping block.

Similarly, the Yacht Party cried poor about programs that help people, but made room in the February budget for a huge corporate tax cut.

Everyone who has spent 10 seconds on this recognizes that there's no good way to use current revenues to provide the basic level of services Californians deserve. To the extent that I have hope that we will overcome the selfishness of the cruel and the impossibility of navigating a broken system, it comes from people, who are fed up and starving for leadership and change from a government that no longer serves their interests. To turn the figurative starvation literal, Los Angeles teachers are going on a hunger strike to protest budget cuts. We're all hungry, and we'll be a lot hungrier if Governor Hoover has his way.

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