MEDI-CAL: Doctors March at Capitol to Protest Rates
Hundreds of doctors protested at the state Capitol Wednesday, waving picket signs and chanting "Shame on California," to denounce the state's low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The Medi-Cal program ranks 47 out of 50 states in reimbursement rates, according to Jack Louin, CEO of the California Medical Association. "The public, our patients, they don't know the crises we face. Our governor is not concerned that we're facing a real crises," Louin said. He added that doctors continue to see patients, even when Medi-Cal rates do not cover the costs. The CMA is asking Gov. Gray Davis to increase Medi-Cal payments to physicians in his revised state budget due to be released next month (4/27). Demanding a 25% across-the-board increase, doctors argue that the state's rates have not changed since 1985. Even with the proposed increase, doctors say that they will still be reimbursed at rates below those paid by Medicare and private insurers for the same services. The CMA also contends that current rates are in violation of a federal stipulation that requires reimbursement rates be adequate to provide Medi-Cal patients access to physicians. "We need this state at minimum to cover the cost of basic care," CMA President Marie Kuffner said. She added, "It's appalling when a veterinarian is paid 10 to 15 times more to set a dog's leg than a physician is paid to set a child's broken arm" (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 4/27).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.