(CNSNews.com) — Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto called the state budget plan signed Friday by California Gov. Jerry Brown “insanely distorted health care” because it continues a 10 percent cut in Medi-Cal funds to hospitals and other health care providers for low- income families, but increases state funding to abortion providers by 40 percent.
Bishop Soto, who is president of the California Catholic Conference, which “is the official voice of the Catholic community in California’s public policy arena,” condemned the budget in a statement last week and urged Gov. Brown to “undo this wrong.”
“At a time when the state claims it is too poor to fully fund health care for nearly 10 million people, and women are struggling to find providers to give them basic medical care, the state returns a political favor by giving extra money to abortion providers,” Bishop Soto said.
Soto told CNSNews.com that he only found out about the increase in funds to abortion providers while the reimbursement rates to other health care providers were being cut through the vigilance of his staff because these facts were “buried deeply in the State Budget, and in the Medi-Cal Estimates provided by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).”
The DHCS announced that it will “Increase reimbursement rates for pregnancy termination services under Medi-Cal by 40%” and “add onsite dispensing of the emergency contraceptive, ella” on page 347 of the 1,078- page budget (PC Page 105). The abortion funds will increase by $5.5 million in FY 2014-2015, according to the new budget, while funding for mammograms and pregnancy test-only benefits are eliminated.
The budget also refers to the continuance of the 10 percent “provider rate reductions” for basic Medi-Cal health care providers on page 7 of the 1,078-page document while increasing funding for “implementation of the [Affordable Care Act] ACA.”
Soto also told CNSNews.com that while he did not know the exact reason for the increase in abortion funding, he found it very troubling that the Medi-Cal estimate tried to justify it as a “cost-effective decision” because “early statewide access [to pregnancy termination services] insures services are less costly, whereas lack of access results in increased ongoing expenses for years,” according to DHCS.
“What a callous and calculating thing for anyone to say, much less a government official,” Soto said in his statement.
“In other words, it’s cheaper for state government to pay for abortions than care for mothers and children,” he added. “By approving this budget, State elected officials are choosing abortion and pushing their preference on to women.”
“It is misguided to give special treatment to abortion providers. California should do better than this. Roll back this increase and fund essential health care, don’t double-down on something as wrong as abortion,” he concluded.
Soto was not the only one to complain about the continuance of the 10 percent cut in funds to Medi-Cal providers. Health care advocates across California have also spoken out against the cuts in basic medical services.
“You might have an insurance card and not be able to get into a doctor’s office anywhere,” Dr. Richard Thorp, president of the California Medical Association, told the Associated Press.
“Health advocates say it doesn’t make sense to continue recession-era cuts when the state is adding 1.9 million new Medi-Cal enrollees as part of the federal health overhaul under the Affordable Care Act,” the AP reported.