Schwarzenegger Efforts To Address Medi-Cal Costs Examined
The AP/San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday examined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) "new attack" to limit California's "soaring medical costs."
For Medi-Cal beneficiaries, Schwarzenegger has proposed limiting dental coverage to $1,000 annually, transferring about one million more beneficiaries into managed care networks and requiring 550,000 beneficiaries whose annual incomes exceed the federal poverty level to pay monthly premiums.
Medi-Cal costs have increased by $4.5 billion since 1999, and President Bush's proposal to reduce Medicaid funding has "complicated" problems for California and other states, the AP/Chronicle reports.
Department of Health Services Director Sandra Shewry said Schwarzenegger is designing a new health system for low-income residents that gradually would reduce state costs by $254 million over five years, rather than "cutting the Medi-Cal program."
"[M]any among the Legislature's Democratic majority" and advocates for low-income residents said that Schwarzenegger instead should raise taxes and reduce funding for other programs, the AP/Chronicle reports. Schwarzenegger has said he will not raise taxes.
Anthony Wright, president of Health Access, a coalition that monitors health care issues in California, said 100,000 of the 550,000 Medi-Cal beneficiaries who would pay monthly premiums under the Schwarzenegger plan would "fall off the program." He added, "The real savings comes from people falling off the program."
In addition, some hospitals and doctors are concerned that the proposed changes could affect reimbursement rates (Wasserman, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/6).