Challenge to Medi-Cal Cuts Coincides With Budget Revision
Nine days before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is scheduled to announce his revised budget proposal, a coalition of influential health care groups and providers filed a lawsuit to block his plan to reduce Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal reimbursement rates.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program, and Denti-Cal is the branch of the program providing dental care.
The suit claims the $1.3 billion in cuts, including more than $500 million in federal matching funds, would cause more physicians to stop treating the state's estimated 6.6 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries, who are already finding it increasingly difficult to find doctors and dentists willing to take on new Medi-Cal patients.
The suit, filed in state court in Los Angeles Monday, claims California violated state and federal law by failing to ensure that Medi-Cal reimbursement rates are sufficient for beneficiaries to have the same access to services as the general public. The suit seeks an injunction to forestall the cutbacks, which were passed by state lawmakers in February.
Whether the threat of a lawsuit sways the Republican governor probably won't be clear until May 14, when Schwarzenegger is scheduled to unveil his new plan to address a growing budget deficit. Predicted to be in the $10 billion range four months ago, the governor now says it might be twice as high.