Tentative ruling in Medi-Cal case stops cuts
Ryan Summerlin January 31, 2012
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A federal judge issued a tentative ruling Monday to stop 10 percent cuts to payments many medical providers get from serving Medi-Cal patients in California.
In a tentative ruling, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder repeatedly sided with a coalition of leading professional organizations who were plaintiffs in the suit, including the California Medical Association, the California Dental Association and the California Pharmacists Association.
The stopped cuts include a 10 percent reduction of payments for outpatient services for doctors, clinics, optometrists, dental services, medical equipment and pharmacies.
Health providers say ongoing cuts to Medi-Cal have left doctors with little option but to stop taking qualified patients. Advocates say millions of Californians could be affected by the proposed cuts.
Snyder’s ruling criticized the studies health officials used to say the proposed cuts would not affect patients’ access to care, noting that the state’s count of Medi-Cal doctors includes doctors who have billed to the program just once. The cuts will save the state’s general fund $623 million, but health providers worry the real cost will be paid by the state’s poorest patients.
In Monday’s ruling, Snyder wrote California’s “fiscal crisis does not outweigh the serious irreparable injury plaintiffs would suffer absent the issuance of an injunction.”
Last spring, AB 97 was signed into law mandating a 10 percent reimbursement rate cut for physicians, dentists, pharmacists and other Medi-Cal providers, but federal approval was required before the state could implement its proposed cuts.
The suit came in response to an approval federal health officials gave in October to broad cuts to the state’s insurance program for the poor and disabled.