Honey, we shrunk the doctors!

The slow dismantling of Medi-Cal provider fees

Earlier this year, California eliminated all dental benefits for Medi-Cal adults. Now, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for substantial cuts in basic health-care services to low-income Californians, including Medi-Cal.

Medi-Cal has been taking hits for years, primarily in the form of a failure to raise provider reimbursement rates sufficiently to keep up with cost increases. As a result, fewer and fewer doctors accept Medi-Cal, patients find it nearly impossible to find doctors, and Medi-Cal clinics struggle to survive.

The following chart compares the average Medicaid (in California, Medi-Cal) fees as a percentage of the corresponding Medicare-allowed fees—which are themselves low—in seven states. Overall, California’s fees ranked 47th among all states when adjusted for geographic differences in health-care costs.

Source: California Healthcare Foundation