AP/Contra Costa Times Examines Schwarzenegger Plan To Move Some Medi-Cal Beneficiaries to HMOs
The AP/Contra Costa Times on Monday examined a provision in an agreement between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and the federal government that calls for moving more than 500,000 aged, blind and disabled Medi-Cal beneficiaries into managed care plans, "a move the state Legislature rejected once before."
According to the AP/Times, the Schwarzenegger administration sees the plan as "a crucial piece of an overhaul aimed at curbing soaring costs of the program." The groups at issue account for 25% of total Medi-Cal beneficiaries and 53% of program expenditures. Administration officials believe that moving the beneficiaries into managed care plans could reduce costs by allowing the state to make bulk purchases of medical equipment and improving management of treatment for chronic conditions.
According to the AP/Times, Medi-Cal already provides several managed care options, in which the state pays HMOs and eight county-run systems to provide health services under a managed care system.
Critics of the new agreement say that moving a large number of beneficiaries into managed care will "create widespread disruption of health care without any savings," the AP/Times reports. Patricia Yeager, executive director of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, said critics worry that some beneficiaries will "fall through the cracks."
However, Schwarzenegger administration officials note that beneficiaries would not actually begin moving into managed care plans until January 2007, beginning with those in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The switch would take place over the course of one year, adequate time for beneficiaries to find a new doctor within their HMO, state health officials say (Jablon, AP/Contra Costa Times, 8/1).