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Panel Rejects Deukmejian's Planned Cut in Medi-Cal Fees

January 21, 1987|PAUL JACOBS | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — A bill that would block a Deukmejian Administration-ordered cut in Medi-Cal payments to doctors, pharmacists and others who provide services to the poor easily passed its first legislative test Tuesday.

On a 6-0 bipartisan vote, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved the measure, which would stop a 10% reduction in selective Medi-Cal fees that Deukmejian had proposed as a means of saving an estimated $18.7 million--only a fraction of the amount needed to cope with an anticipated $280-million Medi-Cal deficit.

The bill, by Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), is on a fast track and could be out of the Legislature and on Gov. George Deukmejian's desk before Feb. 1, when the fee cuts are scheduled to go into effect, according to a Roberti aide. The money would come from unspent funds in the state's disaster response account.

But Deukmejian appears likely to reject the measure if it should reach him.

"The governor has not seen the bill, but he effectuated the 10% cut in Medi-Cal to ensure that California's budget remains in the black," said the governor's deputy press secretary, Kevin Brett. "The governor would not be expected to look on the bill favorably."

The Administration announced the Medi-Cal fee reductions after disclosing that a combination of lower than expected revenues and higher than expected state spending would, if unchecked, eliminate Deukmejian's vaunted $1-billion cash reserve.

A large part of the spending problem was due to the Medi-Cal program, which was expected to cost $280 million more in state funds than had been budgeted for the current year.

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