After a rosy projection for a California surplus earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget revision revealed aggressive cost-cutting measures to offset the economic ramifications and likely deficit brought on by the COVID-19 emergency.

The 2020-21 budget proposal will cut billions of dollars in spending as a $54 billion deficit looms.

Every aspect of state government will be impacted, including Medi-Cal and oral health programs.

The May revision assumes unemployment rate due to the COVID-19 emergency will increase and significantly increase Medi-Cal caseloads.

Cases may peak in July to 14.5 million, which is 2 million above what was expected before the pandemic.

The adult dental program (Medi-Cal) and other optional benefits will be part of a substantial reduction, bringing funding down to 2014 levels. Many recently restored benefits are also going away for the time being.

These cuts will be triggered if the federal government fails to enact new emergency funding.

The funds are used for supplemental payments that pay for Medi-Cal programs. That means that funding for dentists, family health services, nonmedical transportation, and student loan repayments for health professionals will be cut under the standing proposal.

Physicians and dentists awarded the CalHealthCares student loan repayments last year are in contract to serve Medi-Cal patients and will not be impacted. This may not be the case in just a couple of years.

Programs that had been proposed are now withdrawn, including the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM). Expansion of Medi-Cal benefits to undocumented patients over the age of 65 are also no longer in the works.

“Given the fiscal situation of California, CDA stands ready to work with the administration and Legislature to look at sustainable ways to continue supporting critical oral health access programs such as Medi-Cal Dental and the CalHealthCares Student Loan Repayment program,” CDA President Richard Nagy, DDS said.

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