Advocates To Press U.S. Officials To Reject Planned Medi-Cal Cuts
Today, health care advocates from California will urge federal officials to reject a plan put forward by state lawmakers to make a number of adjustments to Medi-Cal, the Sacramento Bee reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 8/4).
In late June, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a state budget package that includes ramifications for health and human services programs. For example, the budget aims to reduce state spending by:
- $623 million by cutting health care providers' reimbursements for Medi-Cal by 10%;
- $511 million by requiring Medi-Cal beneficiaries to pay $5 copayments for physician visits and $50 copays for emergency department visits; and
- $41 million by imposing a soft cap of seven physician visits annually and placing a dollar limit on hearing aids for Medi-Cal beneficiaries (California Healthline, 7/5).
California must receive approval from federal officials to go through with the Medi-Cal adjustments.
Advocates for health insurers, low-income patients and physicians argue that:
- The proposed Medi-Cal cuts will harm the most vulnerable California residents;
- Lawmakers used unlawful tactics to balance the state budget by borrowing money and pushing deficits into next year; and
- State officials cannot guarantee that access to care would remain adequate under the proposed cuts.
Advocates also say that physicians could stop accepting Medi-Cal beneficiaries because of the proposed lower reimbursements.
Toby Douglas -- director of the Department of Health Care Services, which administers Medi-Cal -- said that while the Legislature and the governor signed off on a Medi-Cal payment cut of up to 10%, federal officials could adjust the figure depending on their review of how the rateÂ reduction could affect access to care.
If federal officials set a lower figure, California could spend more on Medi-Cal than the budget anticipated, according to Douglas (Sacramento Bee, 8/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.