San Diego Union-Tribune Examines Impact of Proposed Medi-Cal Reimbursement Reductions
The San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday examined the potential effects of proposed reductions in reimbursements to physicians who treat Medi-Cal beneficiaries (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/2). In May, Gov. Gray Davis (D) unveiled a revised version of his fiscal year 2003-2004 budget proposal that included a 15% reduction in reimbursements to Medi-Cal providers as part of a plan to close the state's estimated $38.2 billion budget deficit (California Healthline, 5/15). The proposed reimbursement reductions would save the state $2.6 billion. A 2001 report by the Medi-Cal Policy Institute found that about 50% of physicians in the state did not accept patients enrolled in Medi-Cal, and many health care experts "expect the trend to worsen under the proposed cuts," the Union-Tribune reports. According to advocates for low-income residents, the proposed Medi-Cal reimbursement reductions could place "intolerable strains on the health care system" as more Medi-Cal beneficiaries seek care in emergency rooms, the Union-Tribune reports. Dr. Robert Hertzka, president-elect of the California Medical Association, said, "This is pretty bad judgment on the part of the Legislature, which is trying to balance its budget on the back of the most vulnerable" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/2).
The Sacramento Bee today examines the potential effects of a budget proposal released this week by Assembly Republicans. The proposal would reduce the income eligibility level for Healthy Families from 250% to 200% of the federal poverty level and would end a practice in which the state provides 12 months of continuous Medi-Cal coverage to children regardless of whether their parents become ineligible for the program. In addition, the proposal would reduce monthly grants to elderly, blind and disabled state residents to the minimum amount allowed by the federal government and would suspend two planned cost-of-living increases to the grants. Opponents maintain that the proposal could "make disease more common" and "force vulnerable people onto the streets," the Bee reports. Angela Gilliard, a legislative advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty, said, "They're only looking at the dollars. They're not connecting the lives of people to the dollars" (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 7/3).
Several recent editorials examine the budget problems in the state and their effect on health care. Summaries of the editorials appear below.
Fresno Bee: A rule that requires two-thirds of state lawmakers to approve a budget "creates a system designed to produce a late budget, and usually an irresponsible one," a Bee editorial states. The Bee concludes, "Voters will likely have a chance to remedy this system failure next year by passing the Budget Accountability Act, which ends the two-thirds rule" (Fresno Bee, 7/3).
Los Angeles Daily News: State lawmakers "ought to be locked inside their Assembly and Senate chambers until they deliver a budget once and for all," a Daily News editorial states. California will "stop paying its bills to vendors and making payments" to health care and other programs for low-income residents without an agreement on a new budget, the editorial states (Los Angeles Daily News, 7/1).
Los Angeles Times: State lawmakers must address the state's budget deficit or face "years of red ink and a state government that can't adequately deliver basic services such as education and health care," according to a Times editorial (Los Angeles Times, 7/3).
- New York Times: Republicans and Democrats are "busy blaming each other" for the failure to pass a budget and should focus on the "damage that budget delays will cause," a Times editorial states (New York Times, 7/3).