Clinics Warn of Cutbacks in Face of Medi-Cal Payment Freeze
Clinics and other health care facilities in California are laying out plans to maintain operations without Medi-Cal payments after the state announced yesterday that reimbursements will be held until a state budget is approved, the Modesto Bee reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Carlson, Modesto Bee, 7/25).
Community clinic operators in the Los Angeles area warn that they will have to eliminate services and scale back hours if Medi-Cal reimbursements do not resume by the end of the summer (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 7/24).
California has an emergency fund of about $2 billion to cover Medi-Cal costs for health care facilities if the state budget is not approved by the beginning of the state's fiscal year on July 1. This year, the emergency fund covered expenses for less than four weeks.
The payment freezes will affect clinics, hospitals, medical equipment suppliers, adult day health care centers and other medical facilities (Modesto Bee, 7/25).
Gloria Rodriguez, president of the Community Clinic Association, said that clinic operators used credit to maintain services during a four-week Medi-Cal payment delay last year, but she added that many clinics are still paying off the interest (Los Angeles Daily News, 7/24).
State law requires Medi-Cal payments to continue to physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
Beyond the Medi-Cal payment freeze, clinic operators and health care advocates also are concerned that California lawmakers will approve other cuts to health care as part of a budget deal.
Medi-Cal eligibility guidelines and coverage for dental and vision services are issues that are particularly worrying clinic operators.
Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) criticized the Medi-Cal cuts and urged lawmakers to restore funding to the program in the state budget (Modesto Bee, 7/25).
On Thursday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the Medi-Cal pay freeze for clinics (Weiss, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 7/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.