Web Feature | Healthwise

Medi-Cal Cuts: Crunching the Numbers

Medi-Cal is California's equivalent to Medicaid, the government health care program for those with limited income and the disabled. The state program has seen cuts of nearly $2.9 billion since 2008, according to the California Budget Project.

Chronic budget shortfalls and a severe downturn in the economy have forced the state to make repeated budget cuts in recent years. And with health and human services consuming nearly 30 cents of every state dollar (much of that for the Medi-Cal program alone), such cuts should perhaps come as no surprise.

Yet high unemployment makes the reductions even more painful, as the number of people who access services is expected to rise &emdash; even as the amount of money available gets pinched. Watch our segments "Filling a Need" and "Taking Care of Dad" to put a human face to the numbers.

So what got cut, exactly? Since 2008 Medi-Cal has seen the following changes:

• 10 percent reduction in payments to providers
• Medicare premiums will no longer be paid on behalf of some seniors
• no more state support for community clinics
• reduced funding for counties' operating costs by $193.4 million
• increased rates for members through copayments of $3 to $100
• $345 million in further unallocated reductions

In addition, the budget agreement approved in June included a number of "trigger cuts" that would come into play if revenues are lower than anticipated during the fiscal year. These trigger cuts include $15 million in additional reductions to the following Medi-Cal programs:

• Program of All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE)
• Senior Care Action Network
• AIDS HealthCare Foundation

But not all of the approved cuts are certain. The 10 percent reduction in payments to providers is contingent on a Supreme Court ruling expected sometime this fall. And some cuts require federal approval before they can be implemented.

At least one planned cut has been successfully challenged. The state had planned to eliminate its Adult Day Health Care program as of December 1, 2011. Instead, the state recently agreed to a settlement that would extend the program through February 2012 and create an alternative program to take its place.

The image associated with this entry is courtesy of Flickr user Images_of_Money. It is used under the terms of a Creative Commons License.

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