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Legislation Introduced to Boost Medi-Cal Reimbursements

Lori Abbott, California News Service

February 25, 2014 (Sacramento)--An effort is under way to restore funding cuts to the California Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal. California has the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation, at just $18 a visit for primary care services - which makes it increasingly more difficult for people on Medicaid to find a doctor.

According to Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, getting a pizza delivered costs about the same as what California now reimburses a doctor for a Medi-Cal patient visit.

"Pizza or the payment to a doctor? To me, it's clear what is the more important and valuable service," she declared. "And it deserves a rate that reflects the service that's provided and gives the quality of health care that we believe in."

Skinner introduced legislation last week that would restore funding cuts that have been made to Medi-Cal rates and improve the long-term stability of the program by extending primary-care rate increases that have been temporarily introduced under the Affordable Care Act.

In 2011, during the recession, Medi-Cal rates were slashed by 10 percent. Skinner said it's now time to raise doctors' reimbursement rates, because the state budget has a surplus.

"We now have the responsibility and the obligation to raise those rates and to make true the delivery of the Affordable Care Act as we have committed to do so," she said.

More than 8.5 million Californians, or one in every five patients, receive their health care from the Medi-Cal program. That number is expected to rise dramatically this year when more than 2 million new patients are expected to enter the system under the Affordable Care Act.

More information on the measures involved, Assembly Bill 1805 and Assembly Bill 1759, is at leginfo.ca.gov.


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