MEDI-CAL: California Children’s Hospitals Face Funding Problems
California Children's Hospitals, a consortium of not-for-profit pediatric facilities, claim that their "sickliest" children often face long delays for medical treatment due to a $50 million funding shortfall caused by inadequate payments from Medi-Cal, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. More than half of the patients at California's Children's Hospitals are Medi-Cal eligible. "It's hard to tell the parents it will be four months before their child can be seen by a specialist when the kid's suffering from seizure disorder," Dorothy Holmes, vice president for patient services at Children's Hospital Oakland, said. To combat the problem, the consortium is lobbying Gov. Gray Davis (D) and the state Legislature to "raise the Medi-Cal reimbursement rates to cover the cost of procedures including treatments for cancer and cystic fibrosis." While California Children's Hospitals face difficult challenges, their Medicaid problems are not uncommon across the nation, according to Peters Willson of the National Association of Children's Hospitals, a national group that represents pediatric medical facilities. "In almost every state in the country, children's hospitals are experiencing this problem. ... [If] 50% of your caseload is Medicaid and you're losing money on all of them, it's a very, very serious problem," he said. Holmes added, "We do what's best for the kid. But then we don't get paid for it" (Coleman, AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/24).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.