Medi-Cal Growth Rate Slowing
The deputy director of Medi-Cal Care Services on Monday said that the program's growth rate continues to slow, reflecting changes in the economy, federal law and prescription drug discounts, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Stan Rosenstein said that the growth rate -- 7.3% for fiscal year 2006-2007, down from 9.6% last year -- is a "positive sign." The growth rate has slowed as private health insurance premiums are increasing, he said.
Experts attribute the slow growth rate of Medicaid nationwide to a stronger economy and stricter administrative rules for Medicaid coverage.
Rosenstein said that California also has reduced prescription drug prices by negotiating discounts and rebates with drug manufacturers and pharmacies.
Approximately 6.7 million California residents are enrolled in Medi-Cal, compared with 6.5 million in FY 2003-2004.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that nationwide Medicaid spending has decreased for the first time since the program was created, but some independent experts and California officials said Medicaid spending technically continues to increase, although at a slower rate (Sheppard, Los Angeles Daily News, 11/27).
Medi-Cal is "plagued by bureaucratic inefficiency and downright incompetence," a Contra Costa Times editorial states. The program is not able to handle problems over the phone or via computer and instead handles all communication by mail, which the Times characterizes as an "unacceptable business practice." Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) should begin his health care reform by "instituting some efficiency reforms for Medi-Cal," according to the editorial (Contra Costa Times, 11/28).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.