Thousands Likely To Gain Medi-Cal Coverage in San Joaquin Valley
Thousands of uninsured San Joaquin Valley residents are expected to enroll in Medi-Cal in 2014 when eligibility is expanded under the new national health care reform law (HR 3590), the Fresno Bee reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The surge in enrollment is expected to put a strain on the area's health care providers.
A recent survey conducted by the University of California-San Francisco for the California HealthCare Foundation found that San Joaquin Valley health care providers are more likely than doctors statewide to participate in Medi-Cal. CHCF is the publisher of California Healthline.
The survey found that 77% of primary care physicians and 69% of specialists in San Joaquin Valley participate in Medi-Cal, compared with 69% of primary care physicians and 68% of specialists statewide.
According to UCSF professor Kevin Grumbach, the area's high providerÂ participation rate reflects the high percentage ofÂ residents enrolled in Medi-Cal. More than 500,000 San Joaquin Valley residents are enrolled in Medi-Cal.
Reasons for Concern
Despite the high level of Medi-Cal participation in the area, there is a significant shortage of primary care physicians in the San Joaquin Valley.
A 2009 CHCF report found that San Joaquin Valley ranked among the lowest in physicians per 100,000 residents.
In addition, it is unclear how many physicians will accept new Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The statewide survey found that only 54% of primary care physicians were accepting new Medi-Cal patients.
In 2013 and 2014, Medi-Cal reimbursement rates will be increased to Medicare levels. However, some physicians say the higher reimbursement rates are not enough to incentivize them to take on additional patients and will not address the area's physician shortage (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 3/26).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.