San Francisco Mayor Discusses Possible Suit To Block Medi-Cal Cuts
In a speech on Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) said there is "no choice" but to sue the state over a 10% reduction in Medi-Cal reimbursements to physicians that the Legislature approved in February, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Newsom and others predict that lower reimbursement rates will push physicians to stop treating Medi-Cal beneficiaries, prompting them to seek care in hospital emergency departments where care is more expensive.
The $567 million in Medi-Cal reductions is slated to take effect on July 1 (Vega/Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/26).
The California Medical Association said California currently spends less per Medi-Cal beneficiary than any other state (Williams, AP/Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/25).
Newsom said the suit would argue that the cuts would impose an unfair burden on taxpayers by transferring the cost of treating Medi-Cal beneficiaries from the state- and federal-funded program to local governments that fund public hospitals, which are expected to treat a large share of Medi-Cal beneficiaries who cannot find a doctor.
According to the Chronicle, it remains unclear whether San Francisco would file the suit or whether the suit would be filed by Newsom and a coalition of supporters.
Mayor Newsom said that health care providers statewide support the proposed suit and that he is trying to recruit additional municipalities to join the action. He declined to specify when the suit would be filed (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/26).
Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) said that "Mayor Newsom should know that no Democrat wanted to cut Medi-Cal or put further strain on our health care safety net ... [which is] why we took the responsible action of delaying the governor's proposed cuts until July 1, and that's why we're working with local governments and providers on alternative budget solutions" (AP/Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/25).
Michael Potter, associate professor of family and community medicine at UC-San Francisco, said the cuts would only further discourage physicians from participating in Medi-Cal (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/26).
CMA spokesperson Ned Wigglesworth said that fewer than half of California physicians currently participate in the program (AP/Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/25).