Researcher Paints Scary Picture of State’s Future

The Medi-Cal system in California is flawed in a basic way, according to researcher Stephen Moses of Pacific Research Institute, a California-based think tank.

“Instead of Medi-Cal being a safety net for the poor,” he said, “it provides very generous benefits to many in the middle class, far more than just the poor.”

The state provides long-term care to people who might have had the means to pay for some form of that care in their lifetimes, Moses contends.

In a PRI study released yesterday, Moses calls the system a “safety hammock” instead of a safety net.

“What it means is that people who 15 years ago should’ve could’ve would’ve purchased long-term care insurance, instead, they didn’t,” Moses said. “Then the path of least resistance is to apply for Medi-Cal.”

Moses said that the release of the study — and the pending release this month of similar reports in Pennsylvania and New York — has nothing to do with the current national effort to repeal health care reform.

“I’ve been working on this for 25 years,” he said. “And I’ve always had to beat my head against the wall to convince people of California’s fallacy of impoverishment. But now the reality is catching up to people.”

Moses said his report is especially important now because the state is facing huge budget deficits. “California is wasting a lot of money,” he said, “at a time when it doesn’t seem like they have a lot to throw away. And they’re throwing it away on public assistance funding. It’s an entitlement program for the middle class.”

Moses said he wants to limit Medi-Cal rather than expand it. Under health reform, Medi-Cal is scheduled to enroll millions of new Californians in 2014.

“It’s going to sink the state,” he said. “You have to reconfigure Medi-Cal so that it’s for people truly in need. You could set a lot stricter eligibility requirements, for one thing,” he said. “The Boomers are learning from their parents that they can get long-term care under Medi-Cal, but that’s going to change. They’re about to find out that the future is going to look drastically different than the past.”

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Capitol Desk Medi-Cal