L.A. County Cuts Pay for Emergency Department Physicians by One-Third
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to reduce byÂ one-third reimbursement rates for emergency department physicians treating low-income, uninsured patients at private hospitals, KPCC reports (KPCC, 2/16).
Under the Physicians Services for Indigents Program, the county pays doctors 27% of the estimated cost for patients' first three days of care at private hospitals (Hennessy-Fiske/Lin, Los Angeles Times, 2/17).
On Tuesday, supervisors agreed to reduce the rate to 18% and apply it retroactively to all services provided since July 1, 2009 (KPCC, 2/16). The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services suspended reimbursements to physicians through the program on that date.
The county had planned to use money from the state's Emergency Medical Services Appropriation, but state lawmakers eliminated the fund.
The new rate is about 43% of what a physician would be paid for the same services by Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
The cut will affect about 4,700 county physicians who treat 150,000 uninsured patients in the county, according to Carol Meyer, the county health department's chief network officer.
ImplicationsOfficials said physicians likely will push hospitals to make up for the drop in county reimbursements.Â If hospitals cannot do that, they might lose physicians and close emergency departments, according to officials (Los Angeles Times, 2/17). 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.