Schwarzenegger Administration Officials Discuss Medi-Cal Reform Plans
Officials in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) administration on Monday for the first time discussed specific plans under consideration to reform Medi-Cal, including proposals to enroll more beneficiaries in managed care plans, require all beneficiaries to pay part of the cost of care and eliminate coverage for some optional medical services, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 4/13). The Department of Health Services in January announced the launch of a yearlong effort to reform Medi-Cal, which covers about 6.8 million California residents, as part of the fiscal year 2004-2005 budget that Schwarzenegger proposed earlier this year. In March, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kim Belshe said five working groups had been formed to work on Medi-Cal overhaul plans and to provide state officials with input from legislators, beneficiaries, local government officials, providers, health plans and others directly affected by the reforms (California Healthline, 4/13). One of the plans officials discussed Monday would increase the number of beneficiaries enrolled in managed care plans, a move that administration officials say could reduce Medi-Cal costs by 5% to 10%. Currently, fewer than 50% of Medi-Cal beneficiaries in 22 counties are enrolled in managed care plans. Another plan under consideration would divide Medi-Cal beneficiaries into two groups: one for pregnant women, children and adults with annual incomes lower than the federal poverty level -- about $15,000 per year for a family of three -- and another group of adults with annual incomes higher than the poverty level. Those in the first group would make copayments of about $1 for services, and those in the latter group would maake higher copays. In addition, the Schwarzenegger administration is considering eliminating coverage for acupuncture and chiropractic care while retaining other optional benefits such as coverage for dental services and medical equipment. DHS Director Sandra Shewry said the proposals were "concepts that we are looking at," adding that the administration would submit a detailed plan to the Legislature in May before submitting the proposal to the federal government for approval (Sacramento Bee, 4/13).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.