Care Providers Worry About Implications of New Cuts to Medi-Cal
Health care providers and advocacy groups are voicing concerns about the effects of cuts to Medi-Cal, particularly the elimination of coverage for adult dental services, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Hines, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/6).
Because state officials determined that California would not receive at least $10 billion in stimulus funds that could have been used for programs the state general fund finances, the state will increase taxes more sharply and adopt deeper cuts to some programs.
The state is set to slash $120 million in state funding for optional Medi-Cal services, including:
- Dental care;
- Psychological care;
- Podiatry; and
- Speech therapy.
In addition, there will be a 10% reimbursement reduction for public hospitals.
The cuts are slated to take effect July 1 (California Healthline, 4/6).
Denti-Cal a Particular Concern
As many as three million adults statewide will be affected by the elimination of Denti-Cal coverage for adults, according to data from the California HealthCare Foundation.
The cuts will not directly affect the more than one million children who receive coverage through Medicaid, but advocates say that children will be affected if more dentists stop participating in the program and parents who were previously involved in the program stop taking their children to the dentist regularly.
Carmela Castellano-Garcia -- president and CEO of the California Primary Care Association, which represents the state's not-for-profit community clinics and health centers -- called the Denti-Cal cuts a "horrific decision," noting that Denti-Cal "is the primary payer source for most community health clinics, accounting for 50% to 80% of the payer source at a clinic" (Goldeen, Stockton Record, 4/7).
Brad Gilbert, CEO of Inland Empire Health Plan, said that the decision to eliminate adult dental coverage would translate to higher costs for the state because adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries would seek care at hospital emergency departments, where care is more expensive (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/6).
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