We are proud of how Californians have come together during the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve rallied to protect one another, take care of our families and neighbors, and show appreciation for our essential workers. However, challenges remain, and we may feel them for years to come.
The economic costs of fighting Covid-19 have left California with a budget deficit of about $54 billion. That’s like being overdrawn at the bank – and when rent and bills are due, you have to make some hard choices. This is the position our state is in now, and our governor has made drastic cuts to public health care funding – at the time when we need it the most.
In June, Governor Newsom signed a state budget that cut many essential services but was a less painful version of a budget we saw in May. The earlier version of the budget would have eliminated key resources for our most vulnerable populations, denied coverage to tens of thousands of low-income seniors, and cut benefits and access to health providers for millions more on Medi-Cal. So, while some crucial benefits are safe (for now), there have still been cuts that affect many Californians.
The Deepest Cuts
⦁ The budget delays the expansion of Med-Cal, which would have covered all low-income seniors in Medi-Cal, regardless of immigration status. In the middle of a public health crisis, our state should be covering more people, especially seniors, as they are most at risk for Covid-19.
⦁ California’s budget reduces funding for Covered California assistance. This could make it more expensive for those buying health coverage through the insurance exchange and make it more difficult for families to get the care they need.
A Few Victories
Some of the proposed budget cuts that would have jeopardized the health of millions were reduced or avoided:
⦁ The budget preserved medically necessary benefits for millions of adults with Medi-Cal coverage, including vision, audiology, podiatry, and some dental services.
⦁ The new deal spared Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) and Multipurpose Senior Services Programs (MSSP) that help keep seniors and adults with disabilities independent and in their own homes and out of institutionalized care where COVID-19 deaths have been more prevalent.
⦁ For now, health providers’ compensation is protected, enabling them to continue to serve patients in our communities.
How We Continue to Fight for What’s Right
Our state needs both federal funds and new state revenues to continue essential services such as education and health care coverage for millions. In partnership with other health clinics across the state, AltaMed has persistently advocated for increased federal funding. We continue to ask state and elected officials to put our communities’ health first by highlighting the negative impacts these cuts have on patients, their families, and the entire California economy.
Closer to home, we are working on expanding the use of telehealth visits to help those who may not be able to see a doctor in person. And we are always working to promote better health, serving our communities with culturally sensitive care and other important resources.
How You Can Help
Even if these problems seem big and abstract, the best thing you can do is VOTE. In every election, every time. The leaders we elect help shape budgets, determine how money is spent, and play a role in keeping the government accountable. If you can’t vote, you can still help us with our advocacy and “get out the vote” efforts. Whether you want to vote or help us advocate, download our My Vote. My Health. app to learn about opportunities to make a difference.
More than ever, we are all in this together. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to help our communities grow healthy.