Medi-Cal Cuts Move Closer to Legislative Approval
Staring down a $14.5 billion budget shortfall, the California Senate and Assembly budget committees have signed off on a package of spending cuts that will reduce Medi-Cal payments to health care providers by 10%.
The cut will translate to savings of about $577 million for the state, but the actual cost to Medi-Cal will be higher because the state also will lose federal matching funds.
Lisa Folberg of the California Medical Association highlighted CMA's opposition to the cuts, warning that reducing Medi-Cal payments will stop some doctors from participating in the program, thereby making it more difficult for beneficiaries to receive care.
With the Legislature focused on tackling the budget deficit, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) made it clear this week that he will not spend 2008 trying to revive the health care reform measure (ABX1 1) that Senate lawmakers rejected last month.
Speaking to the Sacramento Press Club on Tuesday, Núñez -- who negotiated the overhaul plan with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) -- said he hopes that someone will "pick up the ball where we left off."
Later that day, Schwarzenegger took a more strident tone, describing the rejection of ABX1 1 as "a bump in the road" to comprehensive health care reform. A day later, he said Blue Cross of California's request that doctors review patients' applications for health insurance underscored the need for California's health care system to be overhauled.
While the budget deficit remains the top issue in the Capitol, lawmakers also took action on other bills, including new measures involving coverage for mental illnesses and for dependents who take medical leaves of absence from school.