Judge: Calif. Violated Law by Not Disclosing Info on Medi-Cal Cuts
On Monday, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled that the California Department of Health Care Services violated disclosure law in 2011 by refusing to provide background information on proposed Medi-Cal payment cuts, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 3/21).
In October 2011, CMS approved the state's plan to reduce certain Medi-Cal payments by 10%. State officials said that the cuts would save $623 million.
According to the Department of Health Care Services, CMS allowed the state to make a 10% reimbursementÂ cut to:
- A number of providers and outpatient services, including clinics, dentists, laboratories, optometrists and pharmacists; and
- Freestanding nursing and adult subacute care facilities, as well asÂ other nursing facilities.
Last year, the California Medical Association, California Hospital Association and California Pharmacists Association filed a Public Records Act request to gain access to the state's supporting evidence that the Medi-Cal cuts would not harm beneficiaries' access to care.
DHCS denied the request, saying that such documentation needed to remain private so the agency could "engage in candid policy discussions" with federal officials.
Details of Ruling on Disclosure
Connelly said that the documents the state provided to federal officials "are not subject to the deliberative process privilege claimed by DHCS." He added that the information being sought was a "matter of public interest" to ensure the state was not violating federal law by compromising care.
Connelly said, "An informed electorate has a right to know how spending decisions are made."
The judge ordered DHCS to release the documents that it gave to federal officials.
The state has 20 days to appeal the decision or ask for additional time to explain why the documents should not be disclosed ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 3/21).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.