SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing $1.7 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, as part of his plan to close the state’s $25.4 billion budget deficit over the next 18 months.
The cuts would primarily work by increasing cost sharing for Medi-Cal beneficiaries and imposing limits on usage. The higher cost sharing could reduce state spending by about $557 million, while the caps on usage could reduce spending by $234 million.
Brown’s proposed spending reductions entail limiting physician visits to10 per year and non-lifesaving prescriptions to six per month; setting mandatory copayments for beneficiaries at $5 per doctor visit, $50 per emergency room visit and $100 per day for hospital stays up to a maximum of $200; capping annual spending for health products, and declining service to patients who cannot pay the co-pay as long as such patients are referred to a county-level indigent health care program.
Brown also plans to eliminate adult day healthcare services, saving $177 million, and cutting nursing home, physician, clinic, pharmacy and medical transportation rates by 10 percent for another $900 million in savings.
Experts warn that the Medi-Cal cuts could place a heavy burden on the state’s community health clinics and even force them to close for lack of funds. Community clinics serve a high number of Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
Experts also warn the cuts would negatively affect the health of individual families, the health care system and the state’s economic recovery.