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Report: Budget Cuts Will Increase California’s Uninsured To 7.5 Million

June 26, 2008

Sacramento, CA - California already has 6.5 million people without health insurance, and if the governor's proposed budget cuts are approved that number will likely increase to 7.5 million. A new report looks at the long-term, permanent policy changes that would result and how they affect the state's citizens.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, publisher of the report, says the budget, which includes cuts to Medi-Cal benefits and reductions in provider rates, would be the biggest roll-back of health protections in state history.

"These are significant cuts that will have a ripple effect to our health care system and will affect everybody. Many people would agree it would be better to find the money to prevent these cuts in the first place."

Wright notes the immediate savings from the cuts don't account for their full impact in the ensuing years. The report finds that costs will actually increase over time, in part because of new paperwork requirements.

Wright believes California's entire health care system will suffer under the stress of having an additional one million uninsured children and adults.

"That means longer waiting times in emergency rooms, that means higher premiums for health coverage in general; that has major systemic impacts on the health care that we all rely on."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently referred to the state's large number of uninsured as a "moral crisis." He has opposed raising taxes to balance the state's $17 billion dollar budget shortfall.

More on the governor's proposed budget is at http://gov.ca.gov.

See HAC's report online at www.health-access.org.

Lori Abbott/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CA