Department of Health Services Begins Yearlong Campaign To Restructure Medi-Cal
Department of Health Services Secretary Kim Belshe on Monday announced the beginning of a yearlong "overhaul" of Medi-Cal, which provides health coverage for6.8 million Californians, or about 20% of the state population, the Contra Costa Times reports. Belshe said, "We've got to find some ways to better rein in these program costs. The status quo is not acceptable." The yearlong overhaul is part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) fiscal year 2004-2005 budget plan, which aims to help the state address a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall and "see[k] better ways ... to conduct its business," the Times reports (Kleffman, Contra Costa Times, 1/27). Schwarzenegger's $99.1 billion budget proposal would decrease state funding for health care programs by more than $900 million, including about $880 million in spending reductions for Medi-Cal. The budget plan includes proposals to redesign Medi-Cal, including offering different coverage plans, charging larger premiums to beneficiaries with higher incomes and eliminating optional benefits that the federal government does not require the state to provide (California Healthline, 1/12). Schwarzenegger also has proposed reducing Medi-Cal expenditures by $400 million in FY 2005-2006. DHS is seeking individuals to help draft proposed changes to the program. State officials said that they hope to submit to the Legislature a request to make changes to Medi-Cal that they will then forward to the federal government. If approved, the changes would be implemented by the beginning of 2005 (Contra Costa Times, 1/27).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.