Public Health Cuts to Prepare for Obamacare

County supervisors were informed this week that the state plans to cut $2.3 million in funding to the Public Health Department next year and $7.3 million in the ensuing years in anticipation of additional revenues promised by the federal Affordable Care Act. With these reductions, the department’s director, Dr. Takashi Wada, expects shortfalls of $3 million until the act goes into effect. When it does, savings of about $300 million are expected statewide, so the early cuts are the state’s attempt at “realignment.” In Santa Barbara County, about 95,000 residents not currently insured will be mandated to find enrollment in either a private health-care plan, one of the two insurance exchanges the act authorizes, or the expanded Medi-Cal programs. County governments throughout the state have argued that the “realignment” should take place one year after the Affordable Care Act goes into effect rather than before. Wada is working on a plan to determine which programs will be trimmed or cut, and will present that plan in January.

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