Gov. Brown seeks Medi-Cal Cuts: Entitlements vs. Safety Net

That headline in my local paper say, “Brown seeking Medi-Cal cuts: Governor requests flexibility from the White House.”  We should commend Governor Brown for taking the initiative to address the overwhelming costs of Medi-Cal (Medicaid) that is bankrupting our state.  California is in a much worse position than most of the other states because, as the Governor found out when he took office, California is in the top one or two of any state in any measure of the amount of entitlements we are providing to our population per capita. In his first budget, Gov. Brown took on this issue and began the effort of reducing these most generous programs, which may have made sense when we were one of the richest economies in the nation, to the median benefits offer of all the national state programs.  This is a very pragmatic, and still generous, approach considering we are now the top state in the national measure when you look at fiscal insolvency.

We need to address this issue now as the time has run out as our deficit build and we become one of the most cost ineffective places for business in a national economy that is one of the most cost ineffective locations to do business on the planet.  Kudos to Governor Brown for taking these very hard steps directly in the hard face of his own parties’ public ideology and attempting to get to a solution to this massive problem.

But overall the problem is not one of just Medi-Cal in California.  It is a much larger problem, a systemic one.  It is a problem that traverses all the programs including Medicare and Social Security.  Beginning with the Social Security, conceived as a temporary safety net program to help the aged who had their savings and investments devastated by the one-two punch of the collapse of the stock market followed quickly by the depression as a result of the great drought induced dust bowl in the mid-west.  In turn, Social Security and the myriad programs that have followed have evolved from that of a simple safety net. Originally, first seniors, and then others, could look to these safety nets as a small aid to what they could earn and save for themselves to tide them through a short difficult time that may occur beyond their real ability to plan.  Now with the extension of Social Security to include Medicare and Medicaid, these programs are not viewed as a safety measure but as a replacement.

If we look to Medicare as an example, it can be argued that it is a vital insurance program to support the healthcare needs of our aging population and our disabled.  And for some this is clearly the case. But it can also be argued that for many, even though the checks are being written to providers covering their health care needs in later years, if this is really supposed to be a safety net, the government is not paying for their health care; it is paying for the purchase of that flat panel TV when I was forty-five, or the vacations I took, or the new car I purchased every four years, or some other expense I would not have made if I had not had the expectation of the government picking up the tab for my potential catastrophic healthcare needs in my last five years of life.

I know the former discussion is not a pleasant one to have as it brings us back to the point that our actions today have ramifications for tomorrow.  In the generation prior to mine, they had the belief that they needed to save much of their excess money for a rainy day.  We have come to believe that the rain is now offset by our wonderful and blatantly generous Uncle Sam.  So, we are empowered by the change from the safety net to that of an entitlement, to believe we are OK to purchase that vacation home, instead of saving the money because when, not if, we get sick, Medicare will take care of it.  I remember my father preaching to my siblings and I in the 1960s that we should never count on these programs because: a) It was our responsibility to plan and pay for ourselves and family—not our neighbors responsibility, and b) The government will probably not have the money when we need it, as this system just won’t work.

Well thanks for the advice, Dad; I took it to heart and have followed your example.  But despite my savings, we, the citizens of the U.S. and of California are at a point you so correctly predicted, and poor California’s Governor Jerry Brown now has to be the first state leader to start taking away all the things we have been trained to be dependent on.  You see, much of these expenses are no longer about emergencies and simply providing for a base existence. They are now becoming more about quality of life.  It is not enough to provide basic services for the poor; we need to also give them cell phones.

I don’t want to see people suffer, and I don’t want to deprive people of some form of basic existence.  But with the coffers bleeding cash at a pace that is now in excess of what we can produce on an annual basis we need to start to make distinctions between emergency necessary for life services, and those services that provide more for the quality of life!  I commend Governor Brown, for taking these steps.  I know they are not easy for him because of his strong humanitarian heart.  I am glad he recognizes the need to make pragmatic adjustments and take unpopular steps to find a solution.  With this accolade also comes caution.  We need to remember that even Governor Brown is human, and is in a system that will require him to make some decisions that he and the rest of us may not like, simply to get part of this done.  We can expect all the purists to take shots at every single deficiency and change from all sides with no recognition as to the realty of a public and political governmental process.

Regardless, he is acting on what he believes will contribute overall to the solution of this complicated equation for the viability of California and its citizens–and that, I can appreciate.

(Tom Loker served as the Chief Operating Officer of Ramsell Holding Corporation. Prior to joining Ramsell, Mr. Loker was the founder and senior partner of Wild Tiger Holding Company and Thomas Loker Consulting. Visit his website at and his blog at


  1. Alice Stillings says

    If Gov. Brown would close some of the State Agencies that are not doing very well/or make them smaller, then he woulld save more money. Many of these state agencies have an over-abundance of employees. Why not lay some off, or cut the unions back on their benefits? No one will even think of that and the unions just keep getting larger.


      Why not lay some off, or cut the unions back on their benefits? No one will even think of that and the unions just keep getting larger.

  2. Harold Longanecker says

    I just think it is a disgrace the way poor and or disabled seniors are being treated by the state.
    Many people are blind and or disabled and their benefits are being cut to save money.
    People are staying in their home with help of in home support but this too is being cut.
    I think it would be not only the right thing to do but also cheaper to keep people in their own homes, then forcing them into convelscent homes.
    I know that some people are on these programs who shouldn’t be and they should be cut off period, but I don’t understand why the elderly and children have to suffer too.
    Why are we cutting back on programs to help people find jobs?
    It is very easy for someone to justify these cuts by saying we can’t afford to help the disadvantaged or saying people on welfare are all crooks or bums, but in your heart, you know this isn’t the case.
    I am 66 years old and have health issues, but I work full time and pay alot in taxes.
    It is a struggle sometimes financially for me, but I would be willing to pay more to keep us from causing more pain to the truly needly segment of our society.
    You know if find it strange that the politicians can raise their own salary but don’t have money for the poor.
    I also hear people complain about lack of money, but spend hundreds of dollars in gambling, drinking or cigarettes.
    It is really sad that society has reached the point that it is so easy to turn our backs on the “Les Meserables” of our society.
    I am a democrat and I voted for Jerry Brown, but I must admit I am not proud of what he is trying to do.
    I cannot understand why we always have money for wars and money to help other countries, but deny basic necessities to our own people.

    • Skeptical says

      “…I also hear people complain about lack of money, but spend hundreds of dollars in gambling, drinking or cigarettes.
      It is really sad that society has reached the point that it is so easy to turn our backs on the “Les Meserables” of our society.
      I am a democrat and I voted for Jerry Brown, but I must admit I am not proud of what he is trying to do.
      I cannot understand why we always have money for wars and money to help other countries, but deny basic necessities to our own people.”
      Harold, this may seem novel, but perhaps it is not in our interest for the state to assume the role of charity benefactor. Instead, the notion of VOLUNTARY INDIVIDUAL OR GROUP PHILANTHROPY are the uniquely virtuous routes to take. I know this idea has fallen into neglect, because the state designated itself to perform the role as a richer payout. Problem is, when the state redistributes wealth (and that is what we are talking about here) for any reason, the ‘greatest means for greatest utlility’ test is applied, and results in complete loss of discreet subjectivity. Put a differant way, it cant see the differance between a welfare cadillac queen and the truly destitute because the differance is to small for its eyes to see. You have to draw diagrams to make the point.
      You dont want your servants to assume the role that you, the decent citizen, are responsible to your own conscience to do.

      • The problem with brown is his cuts would not have taken care of the real problem….illegals!!!!! The problem with you is voter retardedness…..!

        • Skeptical says

          So Steven, I hope you sawI included Harolds statement FIRST in my response to it. With that in mind, just who were you referring to? Go back and read my post if there are any doubts.
          -Skeptical, the other guy

          • I.m reffering to anyone who supports medi-cal for illegal trespassers….wetbacks….!!!

          • Skeptical says

            Looks like we are actually in the same boat (although I tend to avoid inflammatory labels like ‘wetback’, as UNnessesarily, UNproductive, and UNpersuasive to folks that might otherwise warm up to the honest truth. Just my thing.
            I myself just describe the undeniable: undocumented foriegn national, illegal alien, trespasser, encroacher, economic opportunist, potential terrorist, and unenfranchised for those who argue the 14th Amendment confers automatic ‘anchor baby’ citizenship to anyone born of legal residents or illegals. At least one parent must be a naturalized, or natural born citizen to enjoy extended citizenship. Another nasty well-meaning nightmare foisted on Americans, is the ‘Family Reunification Act’ which essentially is a ticket for all immediate family members of just one newly naturalized citizen to come on over!
            You cant really wonder why our social safety net is overburdened, or how diseases like tubeculosis made a comeback here in the states with such haphazard immigration and naturalization policies and administration.
            But I never use ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT. The term ‘immigrant’ generates improper sympathy and misguided compassion.

  3. This from the guy who wants to build a 100 billion dollar train to la? this from a goverment who has a state pension plan that is so far in the red? this from the gov who said illegal aliens should have access to tax money to go to college? why do the seniors and disabled need to have funding cut because of problems not of thier making,?? come on tell the truth 8 billion a year on Illegals in CA prison system… drug trafficing across borders costs 20 billion plus more a year. it is up to 240 billion a year for the national war on drugs but we still won’t say what needs to be said, close the southern borders and stop this insanity, the whole system is broken, stop pointing out the children and seniors who cannot fight back, fund US citizens education needs, use tax money to build community centers not prisons, help those who need it who are here legally and send those not back home. why should we be told we need to provide amnesty for illegals when the truth is we would not need migrant farm workers inCA if we were practicing sustianable farming, we pump water out of northern CA for growing crops and it gets sold off to southern developers at the cost to our Delta and Bay… stop it and stop telling me lies…….STOP IT Dammit STOP IT……


      I am waiting for illegal aliens to be denied med-i-cal and other welfare benefits.

      • Skeptical says

        Well Ray, if the state accountant (essentially) says that because the legislative budget stewards are STILL SPENDING based on assuming imaginary future revenues that didnt come, the state is rocketing to bankruptcy. In dire straits like that, how can anyone justify paying to keep a program that duplicates the federal program? The days of this states,”me too!” federal comparisons is over.
        I figure the program is getting the axe in two or three steps. This is the beginning of step one.
        On a happier noe, dont you just know that losing the result of their hard work in creating the state governemnt beast is troubling progressives? I know I hope so. It defines the meaning of their nanny-existances; and they will watch their sand castle Utopia dissolve away into the California surf.

  4. I am waiting for illegal aliens to be denied med-i-cal and other welfare benefits.
    Ending birhtright citizenship wouldn’t hurt either. The savings for the taxpayer
    would be enormous and also other positives would flow from this.

    • Gouchybear says

      And that, ken, is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about: cutting payments to ILLEGALS. I refuse to call the payments “benefits” because they have not been earned in order to be called benefits.

      It stumps me as to why we give money to people for coming here illegally and breaking our laws; money for coming here and killing our citizens and dashing back across the border to avoid charges; free money for going to school if you are illegal, but not one cent if you are a citizen. Are the Dems that desperate for votes they have to buy them and entice illegals to break another law and vote in our elections? No other country kowtows to an illegal population, much less tolerates them, like the United States or one state in particular, Kommiefornia. Our priorities are so screwed up in this state no wonder we’re in the mess we are in.

    • Skeptical says

      Actually, ending birth right citizenship cannot be ‘ended’ without Constitutional amendment (guess the odds on that). However, simply being born in this country does not confer citizenship. Only if at least one of your parents is under jurisdiction of U.S. law (an “enfranchised” citizen), do you qualify for 14th Amendment rights. Therefore, if you were dropped by legal residents or illegals, you would not be an automatic citizen…….of this country.
      Gifting childern of non-citizens with citizenship is a self-flattering practice that we really must end soon.

  5. They talk about “global economy”. That means we are competing against “slave labor” in foreign countries. So, our lawmakers have been privy to “insider” information and have invested accordingly AND created laws to solidify their investments! Any laws that imports massive amounts of jobs out of the country will eventually affect all Americans. The federal jobs will be the last to be eliminated because they just keep increasing taxes till their is NO MORE MONEY LEFT TO TAX EXCEPT FEDERAL WORKERS WAGES!! Already, cities are going bankrupt. Next will be counties,and so on.America must continue to produce its natural resources and create a employer friendly environment so that jobs will come back.ALL IT TAKES IS JUST A LITTLE TIME TO FIGURE THESE THINGS OUT BUT TRY TO CONVINCE CONGRESS !!

    The U.S. Congress sets a federal budget every year in the trillions of dollars. Few people know how much money that is, so we created a breakdown of federal spending in simple terms. Let’s put the 2012 federal budget into perspective:”
    “”””• U.S. income: $2,170,000,000,000″”
    “”””• Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000″”
    “”””• New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000″”
    “”””• National debt: $14,271,000,000,000″”
    “”””• Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (about 1 percent of the budget)””
    “””” “”
    “”””It helps to think about these numbers in terms that we can relate to.””

    “”””Therefore, let’s “”remove eight zeros from these numbers”” and pretend this is the household budget for the fictitious Jones family.””
    “”””• Total annual income for the Jones family: $21,700″”
    “”””• Amount of money the Jones family spent: $38,200″”
    “”””• Amount of new debt added to the credit card: $16,500″”
    “”””• Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710″”
    “”””Amount cut from the budget: $385”

  6. Skeptical says

    Say Jerry, you can start showing budget discipline by nullifying the frankly irresponsible practice of favoring non-citizen children of non-citzen parents (foriegn national border jumpering illegal aliens) with in-state tuition rates denied to out-of-state LEGAL residents. You call it the ‘dream act’. Any rational American knows it for what it is; a nightmare travesty, and a bid to secure some semblance of at least 1 self-glorifying conferred entitlement. Jerry, you cant buy love.

  7. SIMPLE…..Quit supporting all the illegals…..It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out!!!!!!!! What is one politician on the bottom of the sea……..A good start!!!!!

    • Skeptical says

      Steven, you might want to stick with the legal methods. They have people that watch out fror them. Wouldnt you, if you were them?

      • A citizen says

        What are we all waiting for…till he runs out of targets? Tearing the safety net comes just before
        taxing the internet or car batteries. We know he will never touch the pensions of fat cat state
        employees. RECALL BROWN OR DROWN!

  8. Brown talks a good game, BUT he’s the same ole snake in the grass as he was before. Don’t forget a tiger can’t change it’s stripes and a leopard can’t change it’s spots. STOP supporting ILLEGAL MEXICANS, STOP educating them at the expense of others. STOP supplying monies to Planned Parenthood used for KILLING BABIES and then calling it Women”s Healthcare. STOP feeding the egos of Politicians who keep writing bad laws and legislation. Thin out the Upper Management in State Agencies, GET RID OF THE DEAD WOOD.

  9. Most State Agencies have redundant layers of Upper Management. The State Agencies when told of to many personnel, rather than let them go they shift and give them a new title with no loss in personnel numbers and no loss of salaries.

    • Skeptical says

      The current economic disaster we are heading for suggests to me wholesale removal of bureaucracies. Ticks moving from one end of the corpse to another end would seem pointless. IMHO

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