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Medical Transport Lawsuit Gets Federal Injunction

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday to halt a 10% Medi-Cal provider reimbursement cut to medical transportation services.

It was the third time the state has lost in court on this issue. State officials said the state will appeal. Preliminary injunction rulings at the end of December halted cuts in hospital and pharmacy services. Another lawsuit, brought by the California Medical Association and other providers, is still pending.

Marat Sheynkman, executive director of the California Medical Transportation Association, which filed the suit that triggered Wednesday’s ruling, said the 10% Medi-Cal reimbursement cut would have hit medical transport providers particularly hard.

We are facing a cut of what is in effect a 20% cut, because it’s retroactive back to June 1,” Sheynkman said. “As it is, Medi-Cal reimbursements are so low, if you cut it by that much, it would go below cost.”

Sheynkman estimated that about half of the state’s medical transportation providers would go out of business with a reduction like that. “Now our providers will continue to stay in business,” he said.

State officials have said they cannot comment on pending litigation.

Because of the outcomes in the other two cases, this injunction was not a surprise to Sheynkman.

“We expected it,” he said. “They violated the federal Medicaid Act, and the judge agreed with all three of us. In the past, the Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals] has said the state should make a study before cutting any Medi-Cal rate cuts.”

A spokesperson for the California Medical Association said the CMA lawsuit will be heard in federal court Jan. 30.

In addition to these four lawsuits over the 10% provider cuts, a federal judge also issued a preliminary injunction halting the 20% trigger cuts to In-Home Supportive Services. All of those lawsuits were filed before the governor released his current budget, which includes another series of health care reductions.

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Capitol Desk Medi-Cal