ORGAN TRANSPLANTS: Kidney Disparity for Medi-Cal Beneficiaries
Only 31.4% of kidney patients with only Medi-Cal coverage were placed on a national kidney transplant waiting list, compared to 45% of Medicare beneficiaries and 38.8% of those patients enrolled in both programs, according to a study released Sunday. The study, which appears in the October issue of the journal Health Services Research, was based on 1991 data from over 9,000 Medicare and Medicaid patients suffering from end-stage renal disease or using dialysis. The study concludes that "access to the kidney transplant wait list is strongly influenced by a patient's insurance status." In addition, the study noted that the majority of Medi-Cal-only dialysis patients were poor, nonwhite and female. Ken August, spokesperson for the California Department of Health Services, said, "[I]f the information is true it's very troubling, and it is something that we are going to be looking at." The study did not compare Medi- Cal data with Medicaid programs in other states, nor did it address issues as to why Medi-Cal patients were less likely to be placed on the transplant waiting list. Once on the waiting list, however, patients received transplants at approximately the same rate, regardless of their insurance coverage (AP/Sacramento Bee, 10/3).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.