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Health Care Advocates Say New State Budget Falls Short

Health care advocates say given the state's surplus, the new budget doesn't go far enough to boost the Medi-Cal program.

Health care advocates say given the state's surplus, the new budget doesn't go far enough to boost the Medi-Cal program.

State lawmakers cut nine different Medi-Cal benefits in 2009, including dental and vision care.

Dental benefits were restored last year. But the other cuts remain in place.

Lawmakers also failed to eliminate a 10 percent pay cut to Medi-Cal providers.

Anthony Wright, executive director of the non-profit group Health Access California, said the state is being a bit stingy.

“We shouldn’t be spending our dollars as if we’re at the height of a boom, but neither should we be setting our level of services as if we’re in the worst recession since the great depression,” Wright said.

On the plus side, critics said the new budget provides free pregnancy care for low-income women on Medi-Cal.

It also includes $4 million for the Black Infant Health Program. That initiative is aimed at reducing the infant mortality rate among African-Americans, which is 2.3 times the rate of non-Hispanic whites.

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