Bad news for patients: Feds get final say

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
 | 
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (OneNewsNow.com)

A California physician is concerned that the federal government's requirement to approve all state rate cuts will diminish state control over healthcare programs.

Last week the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California's decision to cut 10 percent from Medi-Cal rates for physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies. The court said the state must defer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which said rate cuts would not reduce access to care. The HHS must approve all rate cuts and agreed to California's rate cut proposal.

Bay Area-based physician, Dr. Marilyn Singleton, finds that requirement troubling.

Singleton, Marilyn"I don't like what this means for state control over various healthcare programs," she tells OneNewsNow. "And this is the problem of having the joint control of being involved in a federal/state program if the federal government has the final say."

In October 2011, the HHS said cutting Medi-Cal rates will not reduce access to care.

"So we end up with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act being able to be a conduit, sort of a dictatorship of healthcare," states the California physician. "I do not like that at all, and I'm sure many physicians will not like that -- and that might be what be tips them over the edge of no longer taking government-sponsored patients."

In addition, Singleton says the cuts will cause physicians to provide less care because they will not be paid enough to offer it.

The federal government covers at least half of the cost of Medi-Cal, which is California's version of Medicaid.

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