Senate health care bill would affect 4 million Californians, cost state $30 billion a year

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The health care bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate could lead to serious reductions in Medi-Cal coverage, including reducing or ending coverage for more than 3.8 million people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion.

That is the conclusion of a new analysis of the Senate bill by California's Department of Health Care Services and Department of Finance released Wednesday.

A vote on the bill has been delayed until after the July 4 congressional break. The Associated Press reports that with the bill in its current form lacking the needed votes to pass, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is exploring ways to salvage the GOP health care measure. 

According to the California departments' analysis, the bill could add more than $30 billion per year in additional health care costs to the state budget over the next 10 years, shifting responsibility and costs for health care from the federal government to California. It would add nearly $3 billion in costs by 2020, growing to $30.3 billion per year by 2027.

"This bill takes a sledgehammer to the improvements we have made in our state’s health care delivery system," DHCS Director Jennifer Kent said in a statement.

Officials warn that the plan to shift health care costs to the state would mean cuts in some combination to who would get Medi-Cal coverage, what services would be covered, and how much doctors would be paid for those services.

"You would essentially have to restructure your entire program," said Kent.

California’s Medicaid Director Mari Cantwell agreed the cuts would be deep.

"Even once you get past 2027, the harm to California and to what our Medicaid program could do becomes even greater," said Cantwell .

The total costs for California from 2020 through 2027, should the Senate bill take effect, would amount to $114.6 billion, including $92.4 billion from the state's general fund, according to the report.

The state analysis is similar to that done on the U.S. House version of the health care bill. According to the DHCS, the House bill would cost California $24.3 billion per year by 2027.

This story has been updated.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated how much the Senate version of the bill would cost California per year, using incorrect information from a Department of Health Care Services press release. KPCC regrets the error.

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