Judge: California Needs Federal OK for Cuts to Medi-Cal Benefits
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Frank Damrell ruled that the state could not suspend certain Medi-Cal benefits without approval from federal authorities, the Sacramento Bee reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Last year, the Legislature attempted to reduce state spending by eliminating coverage for certain Medi-Cal benefits, including:
- Adult dental care;
- Chiropractic treatment; and
- Podiatric services.
The California Association of Rural Health Clinics and a community health center in Kings County sued the Department of Health Care Services and state officials over the cuts, alleging that the Medi-Cal changes conflict with federal law.
In his ruling, Damrell disagreed with the clinics'Â assertion, saying theÂ benefits in question are not mandatory services underÂ federal Medicaid law. The judgeÂ did not order the state to reimburse the plaintiffs.
However,Â Damrell issued an injunction to prevent further implementation ofÂ California's Medi-Cal cuts until the state secures federal approval for the changes.
On Thursday, DHCS spokesperson Anthony Cava said the department will comply with the judge's order and resume reimbursements to health centers that provide the specialized Medi-Cal benefits.
Cava added that DHCS is seeking federal approval for the Medi-Cal cuts (Walsh, Sacramento Bee, 10/22).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.