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Millions Of Poor Californians Face Higher Medical Costs

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Health care just got more expensive for millions of poor Californians. The new state budget forces people on Medi-Cal to pay more, and get fewer services.

— Millions of low-income Californians will have to cough up more money when they go to the doctor. The state's new budget deal includes a number of cuts to the Medi-Cal program.

People on Medi-Cal will face higher co-payments when they see a doctor, and they'll be limited to seven doctor visits a year. They'll also pay more for going to an emergency room and hospital stays.

Anthony Wright directs the non-profit group Health Access California. He said everyone will feel the pain.

"All the details are bad, but overall, this is undermining the health system that we all rely on," Wright said. "It's also undermining our economic recovery, because for every dollar we cut, we're losing another dollar in federal matching funds."

The new budget also cuts the rate Medi-Cal pays doctors by 10 percent. About half of all physicians already won't see Medi-Cal patients unless it's an emergency.

The rate cut could further limit access to care for Medi-Cal patients.

More than 7.5 million Californians get Medi-Cal coverage. The vast majority of them exist on incomes below the poverty level.

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