Los Angeles Times Examines Effect of Reimbursement Cut on Children’s Services Program
The Los Angeles Times today examines how a 5% cut in state funding for the California Children's Services program, which provides medical treatment for seriously ill children, in the budget signed by Gov. Gray Davis (D) last week could result in longer waits to see CCS doctors. The program treated about 170,000 children with cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, HIV or other illnesses last year. The program pays for treatment for any children whose medical bills are greater than 20% of their family's annual income. According to the Times, most children in the program are from families who have low incomes and no health insurance or are enrolled in Medi-Cal. Children's advocates have expressed concern that the funding reduction for CCS, which has an annual budget of about $135 million, could lower payments to physicians, which could further encourage them to leave the state for "more lucrative jobs elsewhere." Although most doctors participating in the program see CCS patients as part of a larger private practice, reduced payments could mean their groups have fewer funds to hire new doctors. Vacancies could affect the program's team-based approach, Dr. Stuart Siegel, director of the children's center for cancer and blood diseases at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, said. He added that for some children in the program, "it's life or death. You either do it right or the results end up bad." Dr. Maridee Gregory, chief of the children's branch of the Department of Health Services and head of the CCS program, said that the funding cuts are an "unfortunate but necessary way" to reduce state expenditures, the Times reports. She added, "We're hopeful the economy will turn around and the state will turn around and pull itself out of this difficult position. I hope that pediatricians hang with us and realize that these are needy children and they need the care" (Hymon, Los Angeles Times, 8/8).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.