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ACP Protect California’s Safety Net—Urge Your Legislators to Oppose Cuts to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families

February 26, 2011


Dear Member,

Last week, both houses of the Legislature voted to approve a 10% cut to Medi-Cal provider rates, mandatory co-pays in Medi-Cal, and premium and co-pay increases in Healthy Families. The full Legislature is expected to vote on these full proposals as early as March 4th. Your action today is of utmost importance.

We ask that you and your colleagues CALL, FAX, or VISIT your legislators and urge them to Vote NO on these Medi-Cal and Healthy Families cuts.

Please call 877-362-8455, the California Medical Association's new Legislator Connect Hotline, in order to be easily connected to your Senator and Assembly Member. You will be asked to enter your zip code and select your Senator or Assembly Member. Give your name, specialty and let them know that you are their constituent.

Phone calls and office visits are most effective, but faxes are important too. If you or your colleagues choose to submit a fax to your legislators, we strongly encourage that you personalize the letter, which will greatly increase its impact. Click here to locate your legislators by zip code.

Legislators need to know the true impact these cuts would have in their districts!

Talking points are below:

California’s physician payment rates are already some of the lowest in the country (47th out of 50), BEFORE these proposed cuts are taken into account. If the State Legislature approves the 10% cut and requires co-pays that will be impossible for physicians to collect, this will be akin to a dual rate cut to physicians in the program.

If the Legislature approves these rate cuts, it is likely that many doctors will stop seeing Medi-Cal patients. Medi-Cal rates are already far below a doctor’s cost to provide services. Further reductions will simply serve to drive doctors out of the system. As the bad economy forces more Californians onto Medi-Cal, the state should be trying to get more doctors INTO the system, not forcing them OUT. It is critical that there be enough providers in the Medi-Cal network to provide patients with timely access to a physician close to where they live. These cuts will simply serve to force doctors out of provider networks, making it more difficult for Medi-Cal enrollees to find a doctor who will see them. If physicians are not able to treat Medi-Cal patients, they will have no choice except to go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms are the most expensive place for Medi-Cal patients to receive treatment.

Moreover, in recent years hospitals throughout the state have been closing their ERs. Where will these patients go? Further reducing rates paid and driving physicians out of the program will only serve to deny access to care for patients—with potentially tragic results. As patients are forced to travel long distances and wait to be seen in ERs, their outcomes will worsen leading to exacerbated health conditions, increased costs, and potential unnecessary loss of life due to lack of timely treatment.

Driving doctors out of the Medi-Cal system and forcing patients into high-cost treatment centers like emergency rooms will only serve to ADD costs to the system, and the state. These reductions will not save money for the state, they will only lead to increased costs and lost lives.

Maher Roman, MD, MBA, FACP

Page updated: 05-16-11

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