MEDI-CAL: L.A. Times Calls For Reimbursement Hikes
An editorial in today's Los Angeles Times calls for using part of the state's "multibillion-dollar surplus" to increase Medi-Cal payment rates. The editorial agrees with an effort in the state Legislature to boost Medi-Cal payment rates by $45 million. The "existing program is far too stingy," the Times says, noting that Medi-Cal "has frozen virtually all of its payment rates for doctors since 1985." Opponents of the increase argue that the lack of yearly increases has kept the "per-patient spending costs 37% lower than in other states." Acknowledging this argument, the editorial still maintains that the time is long due for another hike, as most Medi-Cal rates are now below managed care rates. Another symptom of the reimbursement problem is that 80% of state pediatricians limit or refuse new Medi-Cal patients.
Mending The Net
The Times editorial notes that "a conference committee recently cut" the proposed increase "to $35 million and is now being pressured to trim more," as "Medi-Cal doesn't have a big voting constituency." The editorial concludes: "Yet even in Sacramento, even in an election year, legislators sometimes do the right thing by way of public policy -- and patching a widening hole in the health care safety net is exactly that" (7/13).