Lawmakers, Advocates Concerned Over Planned Reductions to Medi-Cal
Health care advocates and some state lawmakers are expressing concern that Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) plan to cut Medi-Cal spending could force hundreds of medical facilities to close, limiting health care options for residents with disabilities, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
CMS is weighing whether to approve a 10% spending reduction to Medi-Cal that Brown proposed to help close California's budget deficit. The agency also is considering the wider effect that its decision could have on other states that might seek approval for Medicaid spending cuts.
Details of the Cuts
In an effort to close a $26.6 billion budget deficit, California lawmakers passed a budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year that reduced spending for several state programs, including about $1.4 billion from Medi-Cal. The Medi-Cal cuts must be approved by CMS because the federal government pays a portion of states' Medicaid costs.
The reduction would include a cut in Medi-Cal payments to physicians, hospitals, nursing facilities and other health care providers. Brown said the reimbursement cut would reduce costs by $623.4 million from 2011 to 2012.
Opposition to the Cuts
Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) expressed concern about the potential effect that the cuts would have on intermediate care facilities for Californians with mental illnesses.
About 7,000 California residentsÂ at 1,000 facilities in the state could be affected by the cuts. Patient advocates have said that about 150 of the facilities could close in the next 18 months if the cuts are approved.
Norman Williams, a spokesperson for the Department of Health Care Services, said the state is not trying to target any specific population but is seeking to protect the solvency of Medi-Cal, which services about 7.5 million people.
He said that Medi-Cal is California's second highest budget expenditure and that funds must be cut to help address the state budget deficit (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/20).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.