Los Angeles Times Examines New Indigent Care Policy at UCI Medical Center
The Los Angeles Times today examines the impact in the first two months of a new University of California-Irvine Medical Center policy to limit services for indigent patients (Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times, 10/20). Under the policy, indigent patients who reside more than five miles from the medical center or more than two miles from two satellite clinics in Anaheim and Santa Ana can receive only emergency care services; current patients continue to receive care. UCI established the policy as a result of low indigent care reimbursements from Orange County, hospital officials said (California Healthline, 8/1). Since Aug. 1, UCI has referred 21% of new beneficiaries in the Orange County Medical Services for Indigents program who sought treatment at the hospital to clinics closer to their residences, the Times reports. As a result, some clinics, such as those in northern Orange County, have found their "waiting rooms filling up." UCI on Aug. 1 also established a case management system "akin to an HMO," in which hospital officials must approve treatments for indigent patients. Under the system, UCI will not provide treatment without reimbursement from Orange County. As a result, UCI has denied about 17% of requests for treatments for current indigent patients, according to Mary Owen, head of the UCI case management system. She added that most denials involved requests for treatments in dermatology, gastroenterology and orthopedics. In the past, UCI provided care to indigent patients regardless of whether the county reimbursed the hospital (Los Angeles Times, 10/20).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.