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California Doctors Praise Governor’s Move, But Say Medi-Cal Pay Still Too Low

Aired 1/10/14 on KPBS News.

California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget eliminates a planned 10 percent Medi-Cal payment cut that was to be retroactive to 2011.

California Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget eliminates a planned 10 percent Medi-Cal payment cut that was to be retroactive to 2011. But it still preserves a 10 percent cut to Medi-Cal rates going forward.

Approximately 8.5 million Californians have Medi-Cal coverage, including more than 350,000 people in San Diego County. And thanks to Obamacare, 1.4 million additional people are now eligible for it.

It’s not too tough for Medi-Cal patients to find a primary care doctor who’s willing to treat them, but it’s difficult to find a specialist.

Dr. Sherry Franklin is a pediatric endocrinologist, and former president of the San Diego County Medical Society. She said Medi-Cal pays doctors 30 percent of the private insurance rate, which is tied to Medicare.

“So if Medicare pays $100, Medi-Cal pays $30," Franklin said. "So you can imagine that if I’m just trying to pay the bills, keep the lights on, $30 for a 40-minute visit is not going to cut it.”

In a 2011 survey, 38 percent of San Diego doctors said they no longer treated people with Medi-Cal.

State officials said they're monitoring access to care for Medi-Cal patients and they'll take steps to improve access if the need arises.

California ranks near the bottom nationwide in Medicaid reimbursement rates.

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