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Democratic lawmakers prepare to push Newsom on safety net spending

Democratic lawmakers will push Gov. Gavin Newsom to do more to help the poor as they enter budget negotiations based on plans the Assembly and Senate budget subcommittees passed in recent days.

Taking advantage of a rosy budget outlook and hefty reserves, Senate lawmakers have advanced budget proposals that include expanding Medi-Cal to undocumented young adults and seniors and restoration of most Medi-Cal benefits that were cut during the recession, including audiology, speech therapy, podiatry and incontinent supplies.

Newsom is proposing to require Californians to have health coverage indefinitely, but has offered only three years of financial assistance to cover premium costs — and his subsidies mostly target middle-income people. That has drawn criticism from groups representing low-income residents.

“The penalty can be seen as reverse Robin Hood,” said Linda Nguy, a lobbyist with the Western Center on Law & Poverty. “It taxes lower-income people to subsidize people with higher incomes.”

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