Health Care

A Call for Shared Sacrifice on Juvenile Corrections Budget

By Brian Heller de Leon
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

The Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees on Public Safety are being pressured to reconsider the Governor’s revised cost-saving proposal for the state’s youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Facilities (commonly referred to as DJJ). Law enforcement agencies are demanding that the Legislature reduce or eliminate the new $24,000 per ward fee structure, which was proposed by the Governor’s office in the May revised budget.  

This amount greatly contributes to the $24.8 million in cost savings that the proposed budget targets for the state’s youth prison system.  The figure already represents a significant reduction from the Governor’s January 2012-13 juvenile justice realignment proposal, which would have amounted to approximately $200 million in savings to the state over time.

Past And Future Ballot Campaigns

By Anthony Wright
Health Access California

It's like deja vu...The campaign against the Prop 29 tobacco tax to fund cancer research was similar to big money efforts in the past against popular health measures, whether Prop 72 (expansion of employer-based health care) in 2004, Prop 79 (prescription drug reform) in 2005, or Prop 86 (tobacco tax) in 2006.  They all involved a major corporate interest plowing millions of dollars in opposition, and all even used the same political consultants and even many of the same arguments.

Prop 29 came excruciatingly close--as of this writing, it has 49.2% of the vote, losing by a mere 60,000 vote margin out of millions cast. (There are still outstanding ballots to be cast, so who knows the final result.) It's the exact same, super-close percentage as Prop 72 (49.2%), and even a point closer than the previous Prop 86 tobacco tax (48.2%).

Study: One in 10 U.S. Veterans Has No Health Insurance

By Peter Schurmann
New America Media

One in 10 veterans under the age of 65 is currently living without health insurance and reports not using Veterans Affairs (VA) health care, according to a new study examining health care access for retired service members.

The report, which also found a high number of veterans’ family members living without insurance, notes such rates are highest in states that have made little progress in implementing provisions of the Affordable Care Act. These states account for 40 percent of uninsured veterans.

Despite having higher rates of health insurance than the general population, “an estimated 1.3 million veterans lack health insurance coverage and do not use VA health care,” noted the study’s co-author, Genevieve Kenney, who points out a majority of uninsured veterans tend to be younger and less well educated.

How to Tax California’s One Percent

By Lenny Goldberg, California Tax Reform Association, and Roy Ulrich, Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley

Jerry Brown’s most recent budget proposal takes a meat ax to vital programs, including Medi-Cal and in home support services (IHHS). Why do we refer to them as “vital?” IHHS, for example, helps the disabled and seniors live safely in their own homes, thus obviating the need to place them in more costly outside facilities.

The governor’s plan represents the latest and worst in a spending cuts-only approach which California seems to specialize in. Reaping the benefits of this approach are the rich and powerful. The losers are those without high-priced lobbyists: the poor and the weak.

There are several potential revenue sources the rich and powerful have been able to avoid while other states, including a few very red ones, have seen fit to tap them.

Time to End the Corporate Tax Break Gravy Train

By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

In all the absurdity that is budget politics, there’s a particularly maddening reality that stands out: Corporate tax breaks are costing the state billions each year, providing little to no benefit to our economy, lack transparency and are completely unaccountable to taxpayers.

Enough is enough. Before cutting any more services, these wasteful giveaways need to be thoroughly reviewed. If they’re not serving their intended purpose, get rid of ‘em. And we’re not talking about nickels and dimes here. This is big money that’s likely going to waste at taxpayers’ expense.

Governor Brown Proposes Revised California Budget With More Ugly Cuts to Health and Other Core Services

By Anthony Wright

Governor Jerry Brown announced Monday a revised 2012-13 California budget to solve a newly revised $16 billion deficit. Half of the Governor's budget solution to the deficit is $8 billion in additional budget cuts, including over $1.2 billion in Medi-Cal alone. Nearly $6 billion in tax revenues, making up 35% of the Governor's budget solutions, would result from a proposed ballot measure pending approval by the voters in November.

Health advocates called the budget "a body blow to the health system all Californians depend on." Few California patients will not feel the impacts of these budget cuts and changes in some way, from the cuts to health coverage for children in Healthy Families to seniors and people with disabilities in Medi-Cal; from the cuts to community clinics to nursing homes, from private hospitals to district hospitals to public hospitals.

Another Way High Uninsurance Rates Negatively Impact The Insured

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

Being uninsured means you live sicker, die younger, and are one emergency away from financial ruin. But we've also made the case that even insured folks face a "hidden tax" of higher premiums because of a high uninsured rate due to uncompensated care. And as medical costs are a major cause of bankruptcy, a high uninsured rate also doesn't help a community's economic stability.

Now there's evidence that a high uninsured rate also puts a strain on the health care system on which we all rely--and has an impact on health outcomes and even mortality, whether we are insured or not.

The Marie Antoinette Of Health Insurance & How To Dethrone Her

By Jamie Court
Consumer Watchdog

Two years ago, as federal health reform lay on death’s door, CEO Angela Braly, head of Blue Cross’s parent company Wellpoint, spit on beleaguered patients. She sat through poignant Congressional testimony from customers whose lives were being ruined by spiraling premium hikes, then Braly testified that the public outrage was "a triumph of sound bites over substance."

The CEO’s arrogance and Anthem Blue Cross’s planned 39% rate hike were enough to revive federal reform in the court of public opinion. The federal law passed, but failed to give California the power to reject unreasonable rate hikes.

That’s why, on May 1, one million Californians began paying hundreds of millions of dollars more for their health insurance. It's a plot right out of Groundhog Day, only it happens every Spring, Winter, Summer and Fall.

The Preview Health Insurance Executives Don’t Want You To See

By Jamie Court
Consumer Watchdog

Starting this week one million Californians will pay hundreds of millions of dollars more for their health insurance. It's a plot right out of Groundhog Day, only it happens every Spring, Winter, Summer and Fall.

Health insurance rates in California are like a runaway train and there's no police force or firefighting squad with the power to stop them.  Thirty five states require health insurance companies to get permission before raising rates, but not California.

So Hollywood’s fighting back with a short movie trailer preview of an alternative future. This short preview is of the impact of a real ballot proposal – which only needs another two hundred thousand signatures to qualify for the November ballot. With enough signatures, Californians can then decide their own fate and stop outrageous rate hikes.

California’s Fight to Stop Health Insurance Price Gouging and the Single Payer Solution

By Zack Kaldveer
Consumer Federation of California

As California families continue to reel from the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, health insurance premium rates have soared by 153% since 2002, nearly five times the rate of inflation.

Businesses are finding it difficult to pay for these rate hikes, and pass the increased costs on to workers. Business owners and employees are forced to ab­sorb these rising costs or search for less expensive – and less comprehensive – coverage options.

This injustice isn’t so hard to comprehend considering only four insurance companies control 71% of the California market - setting premiums behind closed doors and without accountability.