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U.S. OKs state’s 10% cut to Medi-Cal doctors, clinics

The federal government has granted California permission to make further cuts to Medi-Cal -- the state’s healthcare program for the poor -- paving the way for other states to do the same.

California can now cut reimbursement rates to doctors and clinics by 10%, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday.

“We are providing California, in approving these requests, with the flexibility that they have sought to address their difficult budget circumstances,” said Cindy Mann, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  “At the same time, we are working to protect the healthcare needs of Californians who are served by the Medicaid program.”

The federal agency will also begin a monitoring system to assess whether the cuts will affect people’s ability to access care. The agency did not make a decision on whether to increase co-pays and limit the number of times people can see a doctor.

State healthcare officials said the cuts are essential to address the budget deficit. They are expected to save the state $623 million.

“We are pleased that CMS has determined that these painful but necessary reductions comply with all federal access requirements,” said Toby Douglas, director of the Department of Healthcare Services.

The agency determined that any rate cuts to hospitals or to doctors treating children would affect care, so the state withdrew those requests. The agency did not make a decision on whether to increase co-pays and limit the number of times people can see a doctor.


Health costs rise, insurance declines

About 1 in 4 Californians lack health insurance

Big health insurers stop selling new child-only policies

-- Anna Gorman

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