Appeals Court Issues Blow to State Case for Medi-Cal Cuts
On Wednesday, a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco unanimously ruled that Medi-Cal beneficiaries have the right to challenge payment cuts to Medi-Cal providers in federal court, the Los Angeles Daily Journal reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In arguments for the state, the California attorney general maintained that Medi-Cal beneficiaries and providers had no standing on the matter in federal court (George, Los Angeles Daily Journal, 9/18).
The Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) approved a 10% cut in Medi-Cal provider payments in February to help address the state budget deficit (California Healthline, 8/20).
The cuts prompted several lawsuits, including the current suit brought by disabled Medi-Cal beneficiaries, three pharmacies and a senior health care center against the state Department of Healthcare Services, which oversees Medi-Cal (Los Angeles Daily Journal, 9/18).
In August, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder ruled that the cuts likely would affect Medi-Cal beneficiaries' access to care.
Under federal law, state lawmakers are required to consider the effect of Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts on quality and access to care, Snyder ruled, adding that state officials did not show that they had taken into account any factors other than the state budget deficit (California Healthline, 8/20).
State officials said Wednesday that they would continue to pursue the cuts by appealing the case.
However, Craig Cannizzo -- a partner with Hooper, Lundy & Bookman in San Francisco who handled a similar case for the California Medical Association -- said that the ruling "bodes very well for the medical providers and beneficiaries and very poorly for the state in connection with the state's appeal" (Los Angeles Daily Journal, 9/18).