Not Just the Budget: Legislature Spends Some Time on MediCal

A busy few days for the Legislature as they move forward on important priorities

by Brian Leubitz

The Legislative leaders and the Governor agreed to a framework for the budget at the beginning of last week, but on Friday, the plan was sealed and sent to the Governor. He promptly signed it and tweeted the accomplishment:

The total budget is at $96.3bln, a spending total that should give the state some breathing room. If the revenue totals are higher, as the LAO predicts, Governor Brown intends to put much of it into reserve. There was a trailer bill for some welfare restoration and the partial restoration of some dental services within MediCal.  The dental restoration wasn’t everything, but it was a good start:

“The elimination of adult dental in 2009 was one of the most visible examples of the harm caused by the recession, the 42 billion dollar California budget deficit,” says Steinberg.

Lawmakers were pressured by many groups to restore public services. A broad coalition wanted to stop doctor payment cuts in Medi-Cal. That didn’t happen.

“We can’t restore everything, or nearly everything that has been lost,” Steinberg says. ” But we can pick a few targeted areas where people have suffered the most. And for me, dental care was at the top of the list.”

So Denti-Cal will be restored – to most of what it was before. Patients will be able to have their cavities filled, get crowns on broken teeth, and bridge work. They won’t be getting partial dentures or implants, and Steinberg says they won’t be getting any care right away.  

“It’s going to take some time to rebuild the program since it’s been gone now for over four years,” adds Steinberg.(CapRadio)

Indeed, the Legislature would still like to restore additional funding that was not included in this round. But, for the time being that will wait until additional revenue comes in and an argument that will sway Gov. Brown.

On MediCal, the Legislature also took some time to authorize the build out of that System along the lines envisioned in the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). The new system will make a million more Californians elibile and streamline the application process.