L.A. County Leaders Seek To Block Medicaid Cuts
Los Angeles County supervisors this week lobbied members of Congress to oppose a proposal by President Bush that they say could translate to a loss of $200 million in Medicaid funds for the county's five public hospitals, the Los Angeles Times reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Dr. Bruce Chernof, county health chief, said the proposed cuts would force the county to cover more hospital costs through taxes or other forms of revenue. He added that the county health department already faces a deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years.
Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, said the reduction could force one of the five hospitals to close.
The Bush administration is proposing to reduce Medicaid funding nationwide by $5 billion over five years, with some hospital industry officials interpreting the rule to include a loss of $500 million annually for California. The cuts are scheduled to take effect Sept. 1.
However, CMS officials say that California's hospitals are exempt from the cuts under a special 2005 agreement with the federal government.
Mary Kahn, a spokesperson for CMS, said state officials have been given verbal assurances that California will not lose funds under the rule.
Melissa Stafford Jones, president and CEO of the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, said that under "a plain reading of what's in the rule ... it would clearly apply to California."
County supervisors said a series of meetings with members of Congress to rally support against the cuts have been successful (Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times, 4/27).