Medi-Cal Pay Freeze Pushes Clinics To Close, Cut Hours
The not-for-profit Borrego Springs Health Foundation is preparing to close or scale back hours at its seven clinics in San Diego and Riverside counties next week unless California legislators approve a budget, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Most revenue for clinics in California comes from Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program (Darcé/Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/10). Medi-Cal payments have been on hold for health care institutions since July or August when an emergency fund to cover reimbursements for providers was exhausted.
The facilities maintain that they will have lost as much as $5.4 billion in Medi-Cal payments by the end of September (California Healthline, 9/8).
Federal law requires Medi-Cal payments to doctors and pharmacists to continue when a state budget is not in place, but there is not a similar provision for health care institutions, including clinics, nursing homes, hospitals and adult day health care centers.
Borrego Health Foundation is believed to be the first clinic operator in the state to move to close facilities and reduce hours because of the budget impasse, the Union-Tribune reports.
Regular operations are expected to resume once a budget is passed and payments resume.
Beyond clinics, California's 21 regional centers that distribute funds from Medi-Cal and other programs to help provide services to people with developmental disabilities are turning to loans to try to maintain services.
However, the center in Los Angeles is believed to be in pressing financial trouble, according to the Union-Tribune.
To argue for an emergency appropriation for Medi-Cal, Republican lawmakers have cited challenges faced by health care providers not receiving payments from the state because a budget is not in place.
On Tuesday, Democratic Assembly members blocked efforts to bring an emergency appropriation up for a vote, and Senate Democrats blocked a similar effort last month (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/10).
Yesterday, the Assembly also rejected a Republican budget proposal that failed in the Senate on Monday (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 9/10). The plan called for $1.6 billion in budget cuts -- largely from health and human services programs -- in addition to those already proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic lawmakers (California Healthline, 9/9).
Schwarzenegger is set to meet separately with the Republican and Democratic caucuses before his compromise budget plan is put up for a vote (Sacramento Bee, 9/10).
Summaries of editorials addressing the budget deadlock appear below.
- Sacramento Bee: Acknowledging the health care facilities that are not receiving Medi-Cal payments, a Bee editorial argues against a stopgap funding measure. Instead, the editorial urges hospital employees and others affected by the budget deadlock to pressure lawmakers to "put everything on the table" and negotiate a budget agreement (Sacramento Bee, 9/9).
- San Diego Union-Tribune: Pointing to the Borrego Springs Health Foundation, a Union-Tribune editorial concludes that if lawmakers cannot reach a budget agreement, the "next best move is a resolution to keep all spending at last year's level, and care for those who most need it right where they've found it" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/10).