Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 2:01 am | Fair 57º


U.S. House Passes Bill to Fund California Teachers, Health Care

Rep. Capps and Cottage Health System tout the benefits of the legislation for the 23rd District

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, voted Tuesday in favor of a state aid package containing $16.1 billion for Medicaid assistance and $10 billion for teacher funding in California.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 247-161.

“There is nowhere I would have rather been today than on the floor of the House of Representatives to cast my vote in favor of saving the jobs of California teachers, protecting the health care of California families, and helping California avoid massive cuts to important state programs,” Capps said. “A vote against this bill was a vote against continuing the economic recovery. Forcing states to lay off thousands of teachers and cut state programs would hamper the progress we have made in the last 18 months. We still have a way to go, but rest assured that job creation is my No. 1 priority.”

The distribution of funds would be based on existing federal formulas and will provide more than $1 billion in desperately needed Medicaid funding for California in order to protect access to essential health-care services for working families.

“Extending the enhanced federal matching rate for California’s Medi-Cal program is essential to ensuring that our most vulnerable patients continue to have access to needed health-care services,” said Ron Werft, president and CEO of Cottage Health System in Santa Barbara. “This increase — as much as $1.2 billion statewide — comes at a critical time for California’s safety net. The increase will provide some protection for hospitals and other providers against further state budget cuts. Last year, Medi-Cal underpaid California hospitals by more than $4.6 billion. We appreciate Congressperson Capps’ continued support of California’s hospitals.”

The bill also would provide $19.1 million to save 268 teaching jobs in California’s 23rd Congressional District.

“This bill is extremely important to the students, communities and the future of our country. The education jobs bill resources are critical so every student has access to programs, smaller classes and individual attention,” said Mike Heyl, a member of the California Teachers Association from San Luis Obispo. “This bill is critical for the economic recovery of Central California and beyond. By saving jobs, it has a ripple effect on job creation and local economics.”

The full cost of the legislation, $26.1 billion, would be completely offset and even contribute to deficit reduction. In fact, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill actually would reduce the deficit by $1.37 billion over the next 10 years.

Additional state aid has been a big priority of California’s congressional delegation and state leaders. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote a letter to the California congressional delegation in support of the education funding and additional Medicaid assistance.

— Ashley Schapitl is the press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


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