The governor's budget is out and for the first time in years, California is expecting a multibillion dollar tax surplus. The governor is proposing a $8 billion in increased spending, with $670 million earmarked to expanded benefits under Medi-Cal.
The expanded benefits include mental health, substance use disorder, adult dental, and specialized nutrition services.
In his proposal, Brown noted that Medi-Cal is the "budget's second largest program." In keeping with his approach to being fiscally prudent, Brown included a warning about health care inflation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. From his budget:
As the state implements federal health care reform, budgetary spending will become even more dependent on the rate of health care inflation. If this inflation rises faster than expected, annual General Fund spending could quickly rise by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Brown noted that the state's expansion of Medi-Cal, done as an option under the Affordable Care Act, as well as the shift of children from the Healthy Families program to Medi-Cal, means that the state's Medi-Cal caseload will expand just over 10 percent in the next budget year -- from 9.2 million to 10.1 million people. "The Medi-Cal caseload is expected to be approximately 24 percent of the state's total population," the governor notes.
The governor is also calling for a 6.4 percent increase in funding for In-Home Support Services, an area that faced significant cuts -- and court battles over the cuts -- in recent years.