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Bills To Raise Medi-Cal Provider Rates Unanimously Pass First Hurdle

The Assembly Committee on Health this week unanimously voted to raise Medi-Cal rates for primary care providers to the same level paid by Medicare.

“California spends 30% less per individual than the national average,” said Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who authored AB 1759 along with Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). “Medi-Cal payments often do not cover the cost of care.”

That’s why California providers have the second-lowest rate in the nation in accepting new Medicaid patients, Pan said. Medi-Cal is California’s version of Medicaid.

The committee also unanimously passed a companion bill, AB 1805, authored by Skinner and co-authored by Pan, which requires the Department of Health Care Services to disregard the 10% payment reductions for Medi-Cal providers that were made in 2011.

“In California, we have more than 10 million people in Medi-Cal,” Skinner said. “That’s over 25% of our state’s population. How can it benefit anyone to be on Medi-Cal if you can’t find a doctor to see you who will take Medi-Cal?”

“Access is such a critical issue,” said Assembly committee member Marie (R-Escondido). “We know we have a doctor shortage. We want California to be competitive. If we can at least try to be competitive with reimbursement rates, we can guarantee we have physicians for our citizens.”

There is no price tag yet on the proposals, but the state has said it stands to save $286 million a year by implementing the overall provider rate cut passed in 2011. These bills deal only with a segment of providers — those in primary care.

Both bills passed out of committee on unanimous 19-0 votes. Both bills now head to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

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Capitol Desk Medi-Cal