California Ballot Measures Would Have Negative Effect on Health Care Access for Children, Immigrants, Minority Advocacy Groups Say
A coalition of ethnic minority advocacy groups has raised concerns that two of six budget-related propositions on the May 19 special election ballot would negatively affect minorities' health, New America Media reports. Proposition 1A would increase California's cash reserve from 3% to 12.5% of state revenue and create a state spending cap. The measure also would extend recent tax increases for an additional two years. Proposition 1D would shift funds from First 5 California Children and Families Program, which provides health care services to children regardless of their immigration status, to the general fund.
Cary Sanders -- director of Having Our Say, a coalition of 50 Asian, Hispanic and black organizations -- said, "If Proposition 1A and 1D pass, communities of color will have to shoulder the cost of our broken system because Proposition 1A limits our ability to invest in the health care system and Proposition 1D will result in more children becoming uninsured." Sanders noted that the First 5 program could reduce health and educational disparities.
Quyen Vuong, executive director of the International Children Assistance Network, said Prop. 1D would cut $1.6 billion from the First 5 program. Julie Soderlund of Budget Reform Now, a committee campaigning in favor of the ballot measures, rejected arguments that Prop. 1D would compromise children's health services. She added that the First 5 program accumulates $400 million in state funds and $2.1 billion in county funds, which she said could be put to good use by diverting them to the general fund to support human services.
Alice Chen, a board member of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, said Prop. 1A could restrict minority communities' access to immunizations and dental and health services. However, Soderlund said that Prop. 1A would help prevent "roller coaster rides" in the state's budget. State Assembly member Fiona Ma (D), who also supports the measures, said she is concerned that if the propositions fail, lawmakers would have to pursue other alternatives to close the budget gap, which could have an even worse impact on communities.
Jan Robinson-Flint, executive director of Black Women for Wellness, raised concern over the legislative power Prop. 1A gives the governor over spending for programs. She asked, "Do we trust our current and future governors to do what's right for our communities?" (Po/Ng, New America Media, 5/13).