Doctors, Pharmacists Sue State, Seek Data on Effects of Medi-Cal Cuts
The California Medical Association and the California Pharmacists Association have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Health Care Services for not disclosing the effects that proposed Medi-Cal cuts would have on beneficiaries, the Sacramento Bee reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 10/4).
In late June, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a state budget package that includes changes to health and human services programs. For example, the budget aims to reduce state spending by:
- $623 million by cutting health care providers' reimbursements for Medi-Cal by 10%;
- $511 million by requiring Medi-Cal beneficiaries to pay $5 copayments for physician visits and $50 copays for emergency department visits; and
- $41 million by imposing a soft cap of seven physician visits annually and placing a dollar limit on hearing aids for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
Federal officials must approve the Medi-Cal adjustments.
A 90-day federal review period went into effect after Brown signed the budget. A final decision could be delayed because federal officials have said they will need California to provide more data on the cuts' possible effects on access to care (California Healthline, 8/26).
The lawsuit seeks to obtain information that the state submitted to CMS about how the Medi-Cal changes wouldÂ affect access to care.
Jon Roth, CEO of the pharmacist association, said state officials "owe it" to Medi-Cal beneficiaries to be open with requests for such information (CPhA release, 9/30).
DHCS has rejected a Public Records Act request that the associations filed, as well as a similar request made by the Bee.
DHCS said it rejected the Bee's request because disclosing the information would impede the state's opportunity to have "candid policy discussions" with federal officials (Sacramento Bee, 10/4).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.