Hospitals in California wont get further Medicaid payments until state lawmakers resolve a nearly monthlong budget impasse, and hospitals could face further reimbursement delays into the fall. A contingency fund of $2 billion in state and federal dollars to reimburse institutional providers ran out July 24, though some final payments were made to hospitals early this week, said a spokesman for the state Department of Health Care Services.
Medicaidcalled Medi-Cal in the statemakes up 20% of total hospital revenue. But some hospitals, especially rural and safety net facilities, count on Medi-Cal for 60% or more of revenue. Forcing these hospitals to go without Medi-Cal payments puts all Californians at risk, said C. Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Association, in a written statement, warning of imminent cuts to services and longer emergency department wait times.
Even after the budget is signed, hospitals could face further payment delays of up to four weeks because of a check write provision already approved by lawmakers that allows the state to temporarily withhold Medi-Cal payments, according to state health officials.
The governor and state lawmakers have been negotiating about the budget since before the fiscal year began July 1. Some members of the Democratic-led Legislature had objected to the governors proposed cuts to social-service and healthcare programs to fill a projected $17 billion budget shortfall, while state Republicans oppose any fee or tax increases. The budget requires a two-thirds majority in the Legislature and the governors signature. -- by Rebecca Vesely