Damage Already Done by California’s 2009 Healthcuts

As California’s Governor Schwarzenegger proposes a 2010-2011 budget with more disastrous health and human service cuts , Health Access looks at the effects of the 2009-2010 cuts.

Health Acess, January 7, 2010

The Damage Already Done

Executive Summary

Six months after major health care cuts were made to the 2009-2010 budget, and despite major efforts to prevent or delay the impacts, the ramifications are rippling through California’s families, economy, and the health system on which we all rely.

Since the Governor signed the budget in July 2009 slashing $2 billion from the health care system, some cuts have been partially averted through various actions. The delay and uncertainty, however, has created serious problems, and combined with the cases where the cuts were actually made, there have been very real human hardships and economic impacts for Californians. Some of these impacts include:

  • Almost three million low-income adults have lost ten important benefits, such as dental care, vision care, speech therapy, and psychological services – in the last six months, over 450,000 Californians in poverty have either had to forego or pay for dental care and another 240,000 have lost coverage for prescriptions eyeglasses; (See demonstration against these cuts)
  • About 93,000 children waited uninsured for Healthy Families coverage until the cut was averted by non-government donations and higher cost sharing for 269,000 children on the program;
  • At least five community clinics in the state have already been forced to shut down and hundreds of workers have been laid off, plus another 10 clinics are on the brink of closure;
  • Thousands of HIV/AIDS patients have been denied access to needed services and affordable medications they rely on;
  • About 300,000 low-income women no longer have access to life-saving breast cancer screenings;
  • Over 300,000 school children have missed an educational opportunity to learn proper dental care and positive life-long oral habits;
  • Programs focusing on prevention and prenatal care have been forced to significantly scale back or are closing altogether; and
  • Six domestic violence shelters were temporarily closed while the Legislature passed a bill to find ways to keep shelters open, and even afterwards, most have been forced to reduce services;

With only six months into the budget year, it is too soon to present statewide comprehensive data about the full scope of the damage of the cuts. However, based on a review of available records and interviews with providers, program directors, health care advocates, and patients throughout the state, this report is a first step in quantifying the damage of the decisions made to cut the health care budget in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

These budget cuts were choices that could have been averted if California policymakers decided to prioritize differently and, for example, raise revenues and/or taxes as an alternative to making such drastic cuts. As California policymakers begin to debate additional cuts in 2010, this report shows the damage already done by making certain choices about the budget.

Read the entire report (PDF)

shortlink to this posting: http://wp.me/p3xLR-lt

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