$20 million in emergency funds on the way to California clinics that help poor – Orange County Register

By Ana B. Ibarra, California Healthline

California State Treasurer John Chiang plans Monday to announce grants totaling $20 million for community clinics that serve low-income and vulnerable Californians.

Chiang’s office called the grants an “emergency” response to possible cuts in federal health care spending being contemplated in Washington.

The money is earmarked for any small or rural nonprofit clinic that would be at risk of reducing services or closing its doors altogether in the event of large cutbacks in Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the Medicaid program for people with low incomes.

That includes Planned Parenthood clinics, some of which are struggling already. The organization recently announced that three of its clinics in Northern California will close their doors at the end of this month.

A possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act and potential cuts in federal funding for Medicaid would only add to the financial pressure on some clinics.

California has 1,237 licensed community clinics, which serve 30 percent of the state’s 14 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries, according to the treasurer’s office.

The Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act, passed by the House last month, would leave 23 million more people uninsured over 10 years than under the ACA and slash projected federal spending on Medicaid by $834 billion over the same period, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. That would leave California and other states with a big financial hole. The House bill also contains a 1-year ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The U.S. Senate is currently deliberating behind closed doors on a health bill of its own. Many observers expect it to contain smaller spending cuts.

Chiang’s spokesman, Marc Lifsher, said the grants for California clinics would be up to $250,000 apiece. “That will buy the clinics some time and a little breathing space if these negative things occur,” Lifsher said. Chiang, a…

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