Additional health provisions in California budget plan

Additional health provisions in California budget plan

California's budget plan for the fiscal 2014-15 includes a number of provisions that aims to boost health care services and strengthen public health in the state.

The $156.4-billion budget plan, which is nearly $1.2 billion more than the one proposed by Governor Jerry Brown, sets aside $438 million for expansion of Medi-Cal program under the Affordable Care Act. It may be noted here that Medi-Cal is California's equivalent of the federal government's Medicaid program.

However, lawmakers of the Golden State retained a 10 per cent cut in Medi-Cal reimbursements, which could remain a matter of worry for many Californians.

The list of other provisions related to the state Department of Health Care Services includes $1.8 million to hike rates starting April 1 next year for the Program of All-Inclusive Care For The Elderly; $3.2 million for a one-time Major Risk Medical Insurance Fund; and $3.75 million for a one-time Major Risk Medical Insurance Fund for qualifying for $37 million funding for electronic health record support.

In addition, "wrap program" will be created at an investment of $16.5 million. This program will allow females to carry Covered California as well as Medi-Cal policies in case their income is in the range of 139 per cent to 213 per cent of the federal poverty level. There is also a provision for launching a three-year pilot program for providing students with mobile vision services.

Under the Department of Public Health (DPH), the spending plan includes provisions for spending $1.9 million for creating 18 limited-term positions for investigating long-term care complaints; $4 million for restoring the Black Infant Health Program; $3 million for HIV demonstration projects; and $26 million for the Office of AIDS.

California Senate approved the spending plan by a 25-11 vote, and it is now heading to Gov. Brown, who has until the end of June to sign it.

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