The Ramifications of the Budget on Health

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The proposed budget cuts on California’s Medi-Cal program show serious political failure. The beneficiaries of the Medi-Cal program are low-income families, foster care children, low-income seniors over 65 and disabled individuals. The program provides health insurance to some 6.5 million Californians. In the year 2010-2011, the approved budget for Medi-Cal was $60,163,121; Governor Brown’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year is $42,539,740. At the same time, Brown wants to increase taxes over $9 billion in the form of higher sales, income and vehicle taxes. If the state is cutting social security for low income families and increasing taxes, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the state savings?

Does Brown consider Medi-Cal a waste of money? Government support for low-income families is crucial to ensure the basic survival needs of millions of citizens. Medi-Cal programs selectively support only qualified individuals. The Medi-Cal application is submitted at a local welfare office, and many criteria need to be fulfilled in order to be approved. The applicant must be aged or disabled and must be eligible based on low income and lack of significant property ownership. The criteria definitely prove that the Medi-Cal program is intended only for those that need it.

Imagine a lonely, disabled senior citizen with nowhere to turn but state government and Medi-Cal support. For people like this, cutting support means asking people to give up daily meals, basic warm clothing, heating and minimal transportation. Also, think of a disabled child from a low-income family who has to depend on the foster care. For this child, cutting government support means potential abandonment, rejection and loss of childhood dreams. Government budget cuts are not just fancy economic or mathematical data on the news or the newspaper. They are very real and can negatively affect 6.5 million Californians.

Government budget cuts in health care, Medicaid, Medi-Cal and education are proposed alongside tax increases. Business taxes in California are reported as some of the worst in the United States. Governor Brown is working on extending tax increases in California. According to the CalTax reports, Brown is asking for a $14 billion tax increase to balance 2011-2012 budgets. CalTax records show that the state government mismanaged $18.9 billion in taxes over the past 10 years. Taxpayers are suffering from these recent tax increases. It seems like there are always increases in vehicle registration taxes, sales taxes and income taxes in the States. However, are there improvements in government services along with these ascending tax rates?

Where does the taxpayer’s money go? Why do people pay taxes? Citizens pay taxes on the condition that the state government ensures quality social security, health care and education. Recently, however, California has increased taxes without any visible improvements; rather, there has been a decrease in the quality of government services. If the government is going to keep taking taxpayer money without improving social services, how can citizens understand the purpose of the tax payments and the tax increase? Do Californians need to endorse the tax increase proposals without the questions or the reasonable doubts?

In conclusion, citizens need to be aware of the state’s budget management when voting for the tax increases. Governor Brown requested business, sales and income tax increase extensions as part of the 2011-2012 state budget. It would involve a $14 billion tax increase for the following year. At the same time, Brown announced budget cuts in very essential social services such as Medicaid, Medi-Cal, health care and education. Under these circumstances, voting to extend tax increases may not be a good idea for the state of California. Before spending money and paying taxes, people need to know where their money goes and what their payments are all about. No one likes to throw away his or her money for nothing.

Kyoung Nam Eom is a fourth-year public health major. He can be reached at keom@uci.edu.


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