Every year, California’s hospitals treat millions of patients, many of them covered by Medi-Cal, the state’s health care safety net. This includes numerous essential health care services, including care for more than 50% of all births, 51% of behavioral health-related emergency department visits, and 49% of rural hospital patient care But for low-income Californians who rely on Medi-Cal for coverage — two-thirds of whom are people of color — their care is at serious risk. Communities with high Medi-Cal enrollment already suffer from a severe lack of health care providers and with hospital services at risk of being reduced and outright closures looming, California’s most vulnerable, including people living in rural and underserved areas, are in jeopardy.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 state budget proposal, released Jan. 10, includes a delay in implementing the Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI), which will transition individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal —dual-eligibles — into managed care. It will also integrate long-term care services and supports into managed Medi-Cal. CCI implementation is now scheduled for September 2013, rather than June 2013 as originally planned. Under the revised timeline, beneficiaries will receive notice of changes no sooner than June 2013. Beneficiary enrollment schedules have also been modified and will vary among the designated counties: in Los Angeles County, enrollment will be phased in over 18 months; in the County of San Mateo, beneficiaries will be enrolled at once; and in Orange County, County of San Diego, County of San Bernardino, County of Riverside, Alameda County, and the County of Santa Clara, enrollment will be phased in over 12 months.
CHA has joined with California’s safety-net hospitals on the Disproportionate-Share Hospital (DSH) Task Force to send a letter to members of the California congressional delegation urging them to protect the Medicaid program from any additional cuts to hospital payments. As the House searches for spending reductions to offset the elimination of cuts to defense spending, proposals have emerged to reduce states’ ability to use Medicaid provider taxes and DSH payments. These programs provide critical means for hospitals to bolster their ability to preserve health care services for the state’s most needy patients. CHA will continue to advocate against further cuts to hospitals as the House continues its budget reconciliation process. The DSH Task Force letter is attached.