Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsBusiness

California hospital group sues to block cuts to Medi-Cal program

The California Hospital Assn. says in a lawsuit that cuts to the Medi-Cal insurance program will threaten the ability of many hospitals to continue operating skilled nursing facilities.

November 03, 2011|By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times

The trade group for California's hospitals has sued state and federal officials to block a 10% cut in government reimbursements for some healthcare providers who treat low-income patients.

The California Hospital Assn. said in its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, that cuts to the Medi-Cal insurance program will threaten the ability of many hospitals to continue operating skilled nursing facilities.

As a result patients, particularly those in rural communities and other medically underserved areas, are likely to face delays or gaps in healthcare services, the lawsuit contends.

Other medical providers also have warned that cuts to Medi-Cal — which is funded by state and federal governments and serves low-income children, their parents and adults with disabilities — would deprive needy patients of access to care. Among those targeted for the cuts are physicians, pharmacists and optometrists.

"The filing of this lawsuit is a regrettable but necessary step to protect access to care for California's most vulnerable patients," hospital association President C. Duane Dauner said in a statement. "California's hospitals cannot stand by and allow these cuts to take effect."

The 10% cuts were part of the 2011-12 budget deal signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in June to help reduce a $26-billion shortfall. The reductions will save $623 million and are retroactive to June 1. The Obama administration gave its approval last week.

Officials in Sacramento and Washington said that they couldn't comment on the hospital lawsuit but added that they would closely monitor the effect of the reduced payments to ensure that patient care is not jeopardized.

Norman Williams, a spokesman for the California Department of Health Care Services, said reductions can be "applied while still maintaining sufficient access for Medi-Cal beneficiaries."

Williams' boss, department director Toby Douglas, is named in the lawsuit, as is federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

duke.helfand@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|