by Francis Monfort
Medi-Cal – California’s health care program for lower-income residents – has recently come under fire after five Latino residents filed a lawsuit last week alleging that low reimbursements to health care providers violate the insureds’ civil rights.
The program covers 13 million lower-income residents, including about 7.2 million Latinos. The lawsuit alleges that California’s failure to pay healthcare providers enough to cover proper care harms Medi-Cal users because providers, as a result, deny them timely and quality medical care, according to ABC News.
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Carol Sloan, spokeswoman for the California Department of Health Care Services, told ABC News that the department “has not identified any systemic problems with patient access to services in the Medi-Cal program,” nor have federal officials.
The lawsuit claimed that healthcare providers under Medi-Cal are underpaid resulting in substantially worse healthcare access for Medi-Cal users than those under Medicare.
“In effect, California has created a separate and unequal system of healthcare, one for the insurance program with the largest proportion of Latinos (Medi-Cal), and one for the other principal insurance plans, whose recipients are disproportionately white,” according to the lawsuit.
Compared to Californians on other insurance plans, Medi-Cal users suffer more illness and have more undiagnosed and untreated serious medical conditions, it added. It also said that Medi-Cal reimbursements to providers rank 48th or 49th out of 50 programs across the nation, depending on the payment method.
The plaintiffs were joined by the community division of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. The union includes 93,000 caregivers, with 6,000 union supporters, including Medi-Cal patients in the community division.
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