January 09, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy
Sacramento - Following Governor Brown’s budget unveiling this morning, California Medical Association (CMA) President Luther Cobb, M.D., released the following statement:
“In both his Inaugural address earlier this week and in today’s budget unveiling, Governor Brown has acknowledged the expansion of California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal. While the physicians of California applaud the extension of the program to offer health care coverage to more patients, it remains disappointing that an increase to California’s woefully inadequate Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates was not included.
“With over 12 million people to be enrolled in Medi-Cal, it is more important than ever to ensure that the program is adequately equipped to handle new patients. California pays some of the nation’s lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates and in order to properly serve the poorest and most vulnerable patients among us, at a minimum, the provider cut made in 2011 needs to be restored.”
“As the rest of the nation continues to look at California as a leader in health reform success, we cannot afford to sustain at the current provider reimbursement levels, which are roughly $16 for a regular, primary care visit.
“This issue is compounded by the fact that just last week, the Affordable Care Act's bump in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for primary care physicians ended, resulting in, on average, a 60percent decrease in reimbursement rates overnight. Many primary care physicians that were able to take on new Medi-Cal patients during that time will no longer be able to do so, despite the increase in patients and demand for care.”
“Governor Brown’s chart clearly showed that in 2011, when cuts to Medi-Cal were made via Assembly Bill 97, the state was in dire financial times. However, not only have we recovered from those times, but California now has a budget surplus, which should be used to properly fund the program that treats patients across our state who need care the most.
“CMA and our stakeholder partners will look toward reforms that will result in real access to care so that health reform is more than an empty promise of an insurance card.”