MEDI-CAL: Chronicle Calls For Reimbursement Hikes
An editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle argues that doctors, Medi-Cal patients and California taxpayers have lost out because the state does not pay physicians enough to treat Medi-Cal patients. The editorial laments the fact that reimbursement "rates have remained virtually unchanged for 15 years," allowing inflation to radically devalue the payments. In comparison to the $36.81 and $66.05 which doctors receive in Oregon and Washington, respectively, for treating Medicaid clients, the $27.60 paid to California doctors seems paltry. "Fewer and fewer doctors are willing to take Medi-Cal patients," leaving those doctors who will treat the low-income patients to bear the burden -- resulting in even higher costs as emergency rooms are inundated with preventable illnesses.
Penny-Wise And Pound-Foolish
The Chronicle cites California Medical Association statistical findings that only 31% of doctors treated Medi-Cal beneficiaries as recently as four years ago. "Anecdotal evidence and logic would suggest that the situation has deteriorated further," the editorial contends. Urging Gov. Pete Wilson to approve a $35 million increase in the reimbursement funding, adding 20% to the rates for children and 10% for adults, the editorial concludes that the state's current system "may be a classic case of a penny-wise, pound-foolish policy" (8/13). Click here for coverage of a concurring July Los Angeles Times editorial.