University of California-Irvine Medical Center to End Treatment for Some Indigent Patients
The University of California-Irvine Medical Center announced yesterday that beginning today it will no longer provide indigent care services to poor people living far distances from its facilities, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the new policy, indigent patients who do not live within five miles of the medical center or within two miles of its satellite clinics in Anaheim and Santa Ana will be eligible only for emergency care services, hospital CEO Dr. Ralph Cygen said, adding that all existing patients will continue to receive care. The policy change was prompted by what the facility calls low indigent care payments from Orange County (Gottlieb/Willon, Los Angeles Times, 8/1). Under the county's Medical Services for Indigents program, the UCI hospital is one of 25 county facilities that receive funding to care for poor, uninsured residents ages 21-64 (Saar, Orange County Register, 8/1). But according to Cygen, the UCI hospital did not receive $10 million to $11 million last fiscal year in indigent care reimbursements, and its physicians did not receive $2.5 million. In addition, a recent study of the county program showed that UCI medical center provided 29% of the county's inpatient indigent care but had only 9% of the county's hospital beds.
The facility's plan to decrease the amount of indigent care it provides is an "emphatic statement" that it will not be Orange County's "de facto county hospital," the Times reports. David Riley, a negotiator for the county indigent care program, said he has spoken with three or four hospitals near the UCI center in an attempt to reserve beds for the increased demand in indigent care services. Riley added that to prevent indigent patients from seeking unnecessary services, the county plans to implement a new case-management system based on the managed care model (Los Angeles Times, 8/1).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.