Advocates Mount Opposition to Medi-Cal Cuts in Revised Budget
Eliminating Denti-Cal benefits for three million Californians as part of a strategy to address the state budget deficit will result in the state losing about $115 million in federal matching funds and cause more expensive medical treatment, according to a report released Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Denti-Cal is the dental coverage program under the state's Medicaid program.
The report, commissioned by the Dental Health Foundation and the California Primary Care Association, stated that the cuts "will have ripple effects, not only on the affected individuals and their families and communities, but also on Medi-Cal and the overall health care system" (Fernandez, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/20).
Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) plan, Denti-Cal coverage would continue for some adults, such as those in nursing homes, and children (Grady, Oakland Tribune, 5/19).
However, the report warned that dropping dental benefits for adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries could translate to fewer children receiving regular dental care because children are more likely to receive dental screenings when their parents receive such services.
Carmela Castellano-Garcia, CEO of the California Primary Care Association, said that eliminating Denti-Cal dental benefits -- on top of the planned 10% Medi-Cal reimbursement cuts to health care providers -- "will have a crippling effect" on the state health care system (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/20).
Meanwhile, documented immigrants visited state legislators' offices on Monday to challenge Schwarzenegger's proposed $86.7 million in cuts to Medi-Cal services for documented immigrants who have had green cards for less than five years.
Under the proposed changes, documented immigrants would be eligible only for the services guaranteed to undocumented immigrants, rather than more expansive preventive care and other services that California currently provides, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Tanya Broder, a public policy analyst at the National Immigration Law Center, said the costs of these targeted programs is so small by comparison that cutting them "is not even going to make a dent in the budget" (Ferriss, Sacramento Bee, 5/20).
KPCC's "KPCC News" on Monday examined how cuts in payments to Medi-Cal providers in the revised budget proposal could affect remote hospitals. The segment includes comments from:
- Jim Hoss, CEO of Mountain Community Hospital in Lake Arrowhead;
- Bijan Motamedi, an emergency room physician at the hospital; and
- Patients (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 5/19).
In addition, KPCC's "Patt Morrison" on Friday included a discussion of health care cuts included in the governor's revised budget plan. The segment includes comments from:
- Lynn Kersey, executive director of Maternal and Child Health Access; and
- Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 5/16).