California Community

Latinos, Other Medi-Cal Recipients Denied Access to Health Care Activists Allege

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
12/16/15  9:59 AM PST

By Tracy Seipel for the San Jose Mercury News

In a new strategy to force the state to spend more on health care for the poor, civil rights activists on Tuesday alleged that millions of California’s Latinos — who make up the bulk of the state’s 12.6 million Medi-Cal enrollees — are being denied timely access to a doctor.

On behalf of three Latino Medi-Cal enrollees, a coalition of lawyers, union and Latino advocates filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, demanding the state increase the infamously low rates it pays doctors who care for the Golden State’s low-income and disabled residents.

In California, the government paid primary care physicians who treat Medi-Cal patients just 42 percent of what it paid Medicare doctors who treat seniors in 2014, the complaint said. Only one state paid lower reimbursement rates. And those low rates are driving doctors away at a time California is adding millions of new enrollees to Medi-Cal.

“This involves life and death, because we are talking a lot about delays in treatment and delays in seeing doctors,” said Bill Lann Lee, former assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, during a news conference Tuesday in Los Angeles.

“The impact of that is in human suffering and shortened life expectancy.”

The complaint says California is not only abdicating its duties to comply with federal civil rights laws but also not complying with a provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” which expanded Medicaid programs.

Read the Full Article at the San Jose Mercury News.