California Officials Seek Suspension of Order Restoring Medi-Cal Pay
Last week, California health officials asked U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder to suspend an injunction that she issued against a 10% reduction in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for health care providers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/27).
California lawmakers and Schwarzenegger approved the rate reductions in February as part of an effort to address the state's estimated $15.2 billion budget deficit. The reduced rates took effect on July 1 for a large network of doctors, dentists, pharmacists, adult day health centers and other providers.
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.
Snyder's ruling restores fee rates for providers who serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries (California Healthline, 8/21).
In documents filed with Snyder on Monday, California attorneys wrote that a reversal of the reduction would cost at least $500 million annually and would "only worsen California's already dire financial situation." They also wrote that California would require at least three weeks to reprogram computers to reverse the reduction.
According to Stan Rosenstein, chief administrator for Medi-Cal, California lawmakers might eliminate optional services, such as prescription drug and adult dental care coverage, in the event that the injunction remains in effect during an appeal by state attorneys.
On Aug. 26, attorney Lynn Carman, who represents pharmacists and Medi-Cal beneficiaries, asked Snyder to hold Sandra Shewry, director of the California Department of Health Care Services, in contempt and appoint a court representative to oversee compliance with the injunction.
Snyder scheduled a hearing for Aug. 28 on that request (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/27).