Sonoma County Health Care Providers Brace for Proposed Medi-Cal Cuts
A coalition of 11 health care facilities in Sonoma County will lose about $6 million as a result of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposed Medi-Cal cuts to help fight the $15.2 billion budget deficit, according to Pedro Toledo, a spokesperson for the Redwood Community Health Coalition, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts would reduce state spending on Medi-Cal by about $1.1 billion. The governor projects savings of:
- $614 million by adopting a 10% reduction in payments for physicians in fee-for-service and managed care health plans, rates for some long-term facilities and non-contract hospitals, as well as reducing funding for 22 public hospitals;
- $203.7 million by reinstating quarterly eligibility updates of family incomes and making other administrative cuts;
- $86 million by eliminating most nonemergency services for recent documented immigrants.
- $85.4 million by eliminating optional health benefits and other programs not required under federal Medicaid law;
- $42 million by restricting the eligibility period for most emergency services for undocumented immigrants; and
- $31.2 million by reducing the Medi-Cal income eligibility to 61% of the federal poverty level and restricting eligibility to households with primary wage earners who work no more than 100 hours per month.
Most of Sonoma County's community clinics are Federally Qualified Health Centers so they will be exempt from the 10% cut in Medi-Cal reimbursements, according to the Press Democrat.
State officials said health care services represent such a large portion of the budget that cuts are unavoidable.
Stan Rosenstein, chief deputy director of the California Department of Health Care Services, said he is asking physicians to continue participating in Medi-Cal and to "help out with the state's budget problem by taking their share of Medi-Cal patients."
Area health care providers said the cuts and proposed rule changes could lead to many eligible Californians losing coverage and could compromise access to health care services for other beneficiaries (Espinoza, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/12).