Scripps Encinitas, Scripps Memorial La Jolla Hospitals Extend Medi-Cal Contracts
Scripps Encinitas and Scripps Memorial La Jolla hospitals will continue to provide nonemergency care to Medi-Cal beneficiaries after agreeing to extend their contracts with the state for another year, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Clark, San Diego Union Tribune, 4/13). The two hospitals, which are affiliated with San Diego-based not-for-profit health system Scripps Health, in January notified the state that they would terminate their contracts with Medi-Cal and stop accepting nonemergency Medi-Cal patients because of the freeze in reimbursement rates that took effect Jan. 1. Last year's budget included a freeze on Medi-Cal rates at the 2003 levels for the state's 230 contracted hospitals because of the state budget deficit. Fewer than 25% of patients at the two hospitals are classified as low-income patients; if more than 25% of the hospitals' patients were classified as low-income, the facilities would receive millions of dollars in annual federal subsidies, which they would lose by terminating contracts with Medi-Cal (California Healthline, 1/9). Chris Van Gorder, Scripps' president and CEO, did not specify the terms of the contract extension or say whether the state had offered more favorable reimbursement rates. However, he said that the reimbursement issue is "far from resolved" and that low reimbursement rates continue to "threaten" provider participation in state health programs, according to the Union-Tribune. Van Gorder added that the low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates force hospitaals to shift costs to private insurers and businesses, a practice that he said is "unfair and equivalent to an indirect tax on business." He said Scripps will "continue to press government programs to pay their fair share of the health care costs of their beneficiaries." The contract agreement requires approval from by the Medi-Cal Assistance Commission, which will meet April 22 (San Diego Union-Tribune, 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.