Not too long ago, Californians were discussing how to provide healthcare for everyone. But in the throes of the budget woes comes this story [(MP3)] which shows just how close to the edge the entire public healthcare system is in California. From the California Report website:
For a decade, California lawmakers looking to balance the budget have turned to Medi-Cal for cuts. This year is no different, last winter lawmakers authorized a 10 percent cut in the fees Medi-Cal pays to providers. The cuts took effect last month, and doctors are again threatening to drop patients or drop Medi-Cal altogether.
Primary care physicians can no longer afford to accept new Medi-Cal patients because it costs more to process the paperwork than the pittance that comes from the state. Note that the cost to process the paperwork is largely due to the private insurance industry. According to the report it takes 3.5 people to process paperwork for each primary care physician and Medi-Cal does not reimburse enough for each patient seen to keep the office open. And because of that, California is now lacking some 50,000 primary care physicians which they are required to have to receive federal funds for the Medi-Cal program.
Those who are eligible for Medi-Cal, but can't find a doctor are increasingly turning to the public clinics. These clinics are overwhelmed so they too have long waiting lists. One woman who was pregnant could not get into the clinic until she was 7 months along. She had been going to the emergency room for her checkups until then.
And under the budget fights, it seems that Medi-Cal will be targeted again. How long can this cycle continue until the entire systems collapses under its own weight and we start seeing people dying in the streets because only the very wealthy or the very lucky will be able to get healthcare in California.
It was a sobering report to wake to on Monday morning.Posted by Mary at August 19, 2008 07:20 AM | Health/Medicine/Health Care | Technorati links |