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No Budget Means No Health Care for Some Californians

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September 4, 2008

Los Angeles, CA - No state budget could mean no health care for thousands of Californians who rely on "safety net" clinics. The enduring budget impasse is especially detrimental to programs that are dependent on Medi-Cal, the state's health care program for the needy.

Howard Kahn, CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan, says some clinics are in danger of shutting down. He says their board has approved the use of $55 million from reserves to help keep those clinics open, but he says that won't last forever.

"They're the ones that serve people on Medi-Cal and uninsured people basically, and they run on a very thin budget to begin with. So if you stop payments to them for a period of time, as the state has done, they just won't be around tomorrow."

Kahn says that, even aside from the budget being late, the anticipated cuts in health care could be devastating.

"I think there's a bigger issue that goes beyond adoption of the current budget, which is: what's in that budget? Are they actually going to cut the payments to providers, which haven't been increased in five years? So, there's a longer-term issue."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants Californians to put pressure on state lawmakers to do their jobs.

"I can ask them; I can beg them; I can offer to them that it would be a brighter future if they do the work – all of those kind of things, but I can't make them do it."

If the clinics close, Kahn predicts emergency rooms will have to cope with an additional load. The budget stalemate is now the longest in state history.

For more information online, visit

Lori Abbott/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CA