Lawmakers Join Rally Against 10% Cut to Medi-Cal Reimbursements
At a rally in Sacramento on Tuesday, several lawmakers joined thousands of health care providers, unionized health care workers, insurers and patients to oppose a 10% cut to Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, the Sacramento Bee reports (Mantz, Sacramento Bee, 6/5).
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Background on 10% Cut
In October 2011, CMS approved the state's plan to reduce certain Medi-Cal payments by 10%. The cut would be retroactive to June 1, 2011.
According to the state Department of Health Care Services, the cut would apply to:
- A number of providers and outpatient services, including clinics, dentists, laboratories, optometrists and pharmacists; and
- Distinct-part skilled nursing facilities, level B,Â with respect to long-term care providers.
In December 2012, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a district court ruling to stop the retroactive 10% cut. Health care providers asked the full 9th Circuit court to review the case.
In May, the full 9th Circuit Court upheld the cut.
As a result of the ruling, the 10% reduction now must be implemented unless plaintiffs appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and the high court blocks the cut while the case is heard and decided.
State lawmakers also could block the cut by approving legislation that draws enough support to sustain a possible veto by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
Meanwhile, Brown included the payment reduction in his revised fiscal year 2013-2014 budget proposal.
Health care advocates have said that the cuts -- which are based on funding levels from fiscal year 2008-2009 -- could result in a 25% reduction to Medi-Cal services (California Healthline, 5/28).
Details of Rally
The Bee reports that several lawmakers at the rally signed a petition against the proposed 10% cut.
In addition, Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) promoted his bill (AB 900), which would prevent the state from implementing the cut for skilled nursing facilities. He said, "[W]ith the 10% cuts, some of these hospitals all over California are closing down, and that is what we are fighting" (Sacramento Bee, 6/5).
Last month, the state Assembly voted 75-0 toÂ pass the bill (California Healthline, 5/30).
Among the protestors at the rally were members of the "We Care for California Coalition" -- which includes health care providers, insurers and groups representing physicians and hospitals -- and members of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West.
Dave Regan -- president of SEIU-UHW -- said, "We deserve better than politics as usual. Better than ... the politics of saying 'it's somebody else's problem.'" He said, "[I]f we can't persuade the governor" to halt the 10% cut, "we need to find two-thirds of this legislative body who know what the right thing is" (Sacramento Bee, 6/5).
On Tuesday, H.D. Palmer -- a spokesperson for the state Department of Finance -- said that the cut will allow the state to save $459 million in the next fiscal year. He said, "We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past and commit the state to an ongoing higher level of spending than the state can sustain."
Norman Williams -- a spokesperson for DHCS -- said that the state has and will continue to monitor access to care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. In a statement, he said the state's monitoring efforts "will help ensure that the rate reductions will not unacceptably impact member access, and that if problems occur, we will quickly address them" (Olson, AP/U-T San Diego, 6/4).For more information on the rally, check out today's "Capitol Desk." 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.