SAN FRANCISCO JOINS COURT FIGHT TO STOP MEDI-CAL CUTS

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced today that the City and County of San Francisco is joining Sierra, San Mateo, and Kern counties, in submitting an amicus brief in support of a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s proposed Medi-Cal cuts.

The brief was submitted yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The brief specifically addresses Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed and the Legislature’s approved cut of $1.1 billion in state funds from Medi-Cal (including $544 million in state general funds) for fiscal year 2008-2009. The reduction would be accomplished primarily through a 10% provider reimbursement rate cut. The California Medical Association (CMA) filed a lawsuit in May to stop the cuts and a hearing on the CMA’s preliminary injunction motion is set for July 25.

“These cuts violate the law and completely go against our fundamental California values,” said Mayor Newsom.

“At a time when the health care system in this country is broken, we need to be doing more to enhance our existing programs, not turning more people away.”

“By slashing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, the state is not only shirking its obligation under state and federal law, it is betraying its promise to the most vulnerable Californians,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

“Rather than addressing the problem responsibly, state administrators are simply shifting the problem to local governments. I applaud Mayor Newsom for his leadership on this issue, and I’m proud to stand with him and thousands of health care professionals statewide to do what we can to stop these draconian cuts.”

“A large percentage of patients seen at County Hospitals across the state are on Medi-Cal and that funding is crucial for these Hospitals to meet their bottom line,” said San Mateo County Supervisor and current President of the California State Association of Counties, Richard Gordon.

“A cut in this funding will cause a likely reduction in services provided at these public hospitals.”

“Medi-Cal is a critical part of the health care system for all Californians, strengthening the emergency services that we all may need and serving as a safety net for health care for those who need it,” said Dr. Richard Frankenstein, M.D., President of CMA.

“When the state cuts Medi-Cal, all Californians pay the price.”

The proposed Medi-Cal cuts would come after years of underfunding the Medi-Cal system, leading to one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation. California spends almost 30% less per Medi-Cal beneficiary than the national average – and the least among the nation’s 10 most populous states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This has resulted in a severe shortage of physicians willing to treat Medi-Cal patients, further limiting access to medical care.

The Medi-Cal reductions were proposed to help balance the state budget. However, cutting Medi-Cal threatens to drive up the cost of health care for everyone and could cause the state to lose more than $1 billion in matching federal funds.

The Governor’s Medi-Cal budget would result in an estimated $5.8 million in funding reductions for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. At the same time, the proposed cuts would likely increase the number of patients needing treatment from the Department of Health by driving away other Medi-Cal providers who depend on Medi-Cal reimbursements. Healthy San Francisco would also be indirectly affected by the cuts because the lost revenue would limit enrollment in the program.

Medi-Cal is the backbone of the state’s health-care system. It is its single largest source of medical insurance, providing coverage for one out of every six Californians. In the City and County of San Francisco, nearly 123,000 residents rely on Medi-Cal.

See Related: HEALTHY SAN FRANCISCO

See Related: HEALTH CARE

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