Thursday, May 23, 2013

MEDI-CAL PROVIDER CUTS: SB 640 AND AB 900

When does austerity mean tossing sick people under the bus?

Answer: anytime there's a government shortfall.

SB 640 (Lara) and AB 900 (Alejo) are designed to prevent the 10% Medi-Cal provider cuts that are now in the legislative hopper.  California is short of money. Apple's Tim Cook is now under the gun for sequestering money abroad in order to avoid taxes in the USA.  Last we looked, Cook was not only from America, but also from California. Not to worry. There's another way to get some money into California: cut down on the money spent on the sick and poor, especially citizens who are sick and poor at the same time.  That definition is fulfilled by Medicaid patients. In California, that program is called Medi-Cal.  

Medi-Cal has always had a sordid reputation in California. In 1981 Medi-Cal had to be coerced to  get back nearly a million dollars it carelessly overpaid to a single recipient for double-billing  (that was when a million dollars was still thought of as money).  The ante has  gone up since then but the program remains a conduit for channeling less and less money to  Medi-Cal patients. The impetus is to reduce Medi-Cal provider payments by 10% even though it's understood that such a move will drive providers out of the system.  Fewer providers plays into the hands of those who want more than the 10% cut. If enough providers opt out the cut in provider fees will considerably excced 10%.  Doctors will get blamed for not participating in a widespread system of moral bankruptcy and financial irresponsibility.

SB 640 and AB 900 will reverse the 10% cut providers and their patients suffer as a result of the 2011-2012  state budget. The California Medical Association has challenged the cuts in court and gets credit for sponsoring these bills.  We recommend support for SB 640 and AB 900.

3 comments: