Mayor to sue for Medi-Cal money

The nearly 115,000 San Francisco</a> residents enrolled in Medi-Cal may have a harder time getting to see a doctor, industry officials said, and that mayor is ready to sue.

Legislators in Sacramento approved in February a $568 million mid-year reduction in state funds used to pay doctors for seeing Medi-Cal clients. With the cuts, private doctors could stop seeing Medi-Cal patients because it is no longer economically feasible for them, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office in Sacramento.

The patients could then seek their medical attention at more expensive venues such as the local emergency room, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce in Sacramento today a lawsuit rolling backthe 10 percent cuts approved by the state Legislature.

There are 114,985 Medi-Cal clients in The City, according to the California Department of Health and Human Services, and more Medi-Cal patients will seek treatment at the nonprofit and public health clinics and San Francisco General Hospital, placing “more of a burden on those institutions,” said Richard Hodgson, the vice president of policy at the San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium, an organization of community-based, nonprofit health-care clinics.

Locally, if the 10 percent cut continues into the next fiscal year, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, already facing a huge financial crisis with next year’s budget, could stand to lose an estimated $9 million in revenue, said Jim Soos, the assistant Director of Policy and Planning for the city Public Health Department.

With the department taking a hit, Healthy San Francisco, the universal-health-care program, would only be indirectly affected by the cuts because any lost revenue could limit enrollment in the program, Soos said, adding that there isno current talk of taking that action.

Lisa Page, a spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said his office agreed with Newsom that the cuts should be rolled back and would use the opportunity to “talk about health-care reform” in the state.

dsmith@examiner.com

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