Experts: California Might Need To Go Solo on Health Care Reform
California might have to take the reins on efforts to expand health care coverage to its uninsured residents, experts said yesterday during a forum sponsored by the Center for Health Improvement and the California HealthCare Foundation, the Sacramento Bee reports.
CHCF is the publisher of California Healthline.
The forum initially aimed to discuss how California could begin implementing national health care reform legislation.
However, now that the future of federal overhaul efforts appears uncertain, experts said California might have to move forward on its own.
Medi-Cal Under Pressure
Currently, California has about seven million uninsured residents and a similar number enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program (Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 2/5).
Although federal health care reform could extend coverage to more Californians, it also could burden the cash-strapped state with additional Medi-Cal costs.
California already provides some of the lowest Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates in the country. In addition, recent budget deficits prompted the state to eliminate optional Medi-Cal benefits such as dental care and vision services.
Experts say any efforts to expand Medi-Cal's enrollment would likely add further strain to the program (Barbassa, AP/Fresno Bee, 2/4).
California currently spends about one-sixth of its general fund budget on Medi-Cal, and experts say that figure is likely to grow. A CMS report released yesterday suggested that public health care spending is on the rise nationwide.
Despite the prospect of rising costs, it remains uncertain whether California lawmakers would be able to forge consensus on a plan to overhaul the state's health care system.Regardless, experts agree that states will play a major role going forward in helping their residents obtain health coverage (Sacramento Bee, 2/5). 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.