Monday, August 4, 2008

Budget blues on the menu for Solano EDC

Budget blues on the menu for Solano EDC
By Danny Bernardini
Article Launched: 07/31/2008

Talking about the state budget crisis during the current tough economic times is never easy, especially when the hardships of health care coverage are also on the agenda.

Both topics were on the menu Wednesday as Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Solano, addressed the crowd during the Solano Economic Development Corporation's monthly breakfast in Fairfield.

Also on hand to speak was Jack Horn, CEO of Partnership HealthPlan (PHC), a joint public/private managed health care system serving Medi-Cal eligible residents in Solano, Napa and Yolo Counties by contracting with various health care providers to arrange hospital and medical coverage.

Wolk apologized for being the bearer of bad news about the budget stalemate and how it may affect groups like PHC.

"I hate when I get invited to places in July," she joked. "The budget situation remains grim. We don't have a budget, and I don't think we're close. We are running out of cash."

She said as the budget situation gets worse, including the 10 percent cuts across the board, more health care providers will suffer. And with Republicans and Democrats in Sacramento still butting heads over whether to make cuts or tax the people, Wolk said, it could be a while before anything is solved.

"It's very difficult to see a two-thirds vote without significant compromise," she said. "I'm not certain what will happen. Compromise is a dirty word right now."

Although Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has acknowledged County Operated Health Care as a savings to the state and a necessary system for low-income residents, Wolk said he has yet to assure funding for them.

"He needs to put his money where his mouth is," she said.

Wolk said if residents don't get their illnesses discovered early, it can progress into chronic problems, which could lead to more people missing work and ending up in emergency rooms.

"One of the casualties of the stalemate will be medical providers," she said.