Medi-Cal expansions left out of budget compromise

Health care coverage expansions favored by Democrats and single-payer advocates did not survive the California State Budget compromise announced Friday. The proposals, including extending Medi-Cal coverage to eligible undocumented youth and seniors, expanding Covered California premium subsidies to those up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, and a Medi-Cal “express lane” to coverage for WIC recipients, were part of what some see incremental move toward universal coverage.

Universal coverage advocates like Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, expressed disappointment with the compromise stating,

“Despite 2 years of discussion about how to get universal coverage and a significant surplus, this #CABudget doesn’t get one more Californian covered, or a dollar closer. What a disappointment.”

Despite the omissions, the compromise does include a one-time $5 million allocation to create a universal health care task force to explore a unified publicly funded health care system. Though details of the task force are not specified, many hope that it will build on the work of the Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage that was convened by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, in March 2017. Earlier this March, the committee released its report, which recommends some of the expansions cut from the current budget.

Says Speaker Rendon of the budget bill,

“No single budget can capture all the opportunities California has, or meet all the challenges we face. But the smart and sensible choices in this budget absolutely move California closer to where we want and need to be.”