Monday, June 16, 2014


The 10 percent pay cut for reimbursement for providing medical care to Medi-Cal patients was not restored by the state budget that was accepted this past Sunday. Reimbursement for California's Medicaid patients remains among the lowest in the United States.  Although the budget did not make the cut retroactive, it's bad enough as it is -- patients on Medi-Cal often cannot get care. Restoration of the 10 percent cut would have alleviated but not cured this problem. So why would the Governor leave his Medi-Cal constituency in the lurch?

This writer spoke to the Governor about this problem during his first years as Governor when he was often known as "Gov. Moonbeam." This writer can attest that Brown was never a moonbeamer, maybe a little tilted towards idealism, but always realistic and politically savvy.

I asked him then about the  pro and con arguments for supporting increased Medi-Cal benefits.  He said the pro argument was that the Medi-Cal population might need the support and even benefit from it. But to do it money would have to be poured into Medi-Cal that was also desired and equally needed by other programs, programs more popular with the voters, and more vital to the interests of tax-payers. Brown wryly pointed out that if he supported increased funding for Medi-Cal, he'd probably not hear a word of appreciation from the Medi-Cal patients but he sure as heck would hear about it from other agencies that got stiffed and miffed.

Needless to say, the Medi-Cal raise didn't happen then, just as it didn't happen now. This time, however, there is a consolation prize:  the budget now includes $41.3 million for technical assistance to Medi-Cal providers that will help set up electronic health records pursuant to the federal Electronic Health Records incentive program.  $3.75 million will come from state funds, 37.5 million from matching federal funds. Not a bad deal for the techies!

When it comes to governing, nobody holds a candle to our Gov. Brown.

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