Santa Barbara County Public Health Department could face cuts

State lawmakers could cut millions of dollars from counties across California due to Affordable Care Act

POSTED: 11:09 PM PDT Jun 12, 2013    UPDATED: 09:41 AM PDT Jun 13, 2013 
Health Generic Blurb
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -

The state may cut funding to county health departments across California, as more people get insurance.

"California is focusing this budget on improving health care of the people of our state," said Gov. Jerry Brown.

Local agencies aren't so sure.

"Santa Barbara County government is extremely concerned about the budget deal, as it relates to the Affordable Care Act implementation," said Salud Carbajal, the 1st District Supervisor for Santa Barbara County.

Congress passed the A.C.A. in 2010.

Its purpose is to provide all Americans with affordable health care.

"Currently, counties receive money from the state, to help support care for the indigent and uninsured," explained Dr. Takashi Wada, the Director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. 

That is expected to change with the new state budget.  Starting next year, millions of people will qualify for Medi-Cal.

"The feeling is now that money from the Affordable Care Act is coming into play, there will be less uninsured, indigent individuals in the counties, so the counties don't need as much money," said Wada.

It's not yet clear just how much money the state will take away.

"There is still some uncertainty about how that will affect our department both in terms of funding and demand for our clinical services," said Wada.

"The way they've structured things, it looks like it could be a potential impact in the millions of dollars," added Carbajal.

Santa Barbara County leaders are currently teaming up with other counties across the state to negotiate with California lawmakers.

"Until its final there's always possibility of change," said Carbajal,  "So that Santa Barbara County residents and government are not impacted as it looks like they will be."