Physicians in California recently got more bad news. Not only would Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, initiate a 10% physician pay cut in the months ahead, it made the pay cut retroactive and will seek to recover a portion of payments made during the period after the decreased payment plan was approved but blocked by court actions from taking effect.
“These cuts could not come at a worse time, as California is poised to expand Medi-Cal to 1.4 million more Californians under federal health reform and the demand for physicians is expected to rise,” the California Medical Association said in a news release.
The cuts were effective on June 1, 2011, but there was a court injunction on their implementation. That injunction was lifted by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals last December. An appeal of that ruling was rejected on June 14.
For managed-care plans, the cuts are effective Oct. 1. For fee-for-service, they hit Jan. 9, 2014. Specialty physician services provided under Medi-Cal's managed-care plan will not be reduced.
According to the California Department of Health Care Services, retroactive recovery of payments made since June 1, 2011, won't begin until after the 10% pay cut is implemented and 60 days' advance notice will be given.
Primary-care physicians are also being hurt on the federal side. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act called on temporarily increasing states' Medicaid primary-care payments to match Medicare rates in 2013 and 2014. States had until March 31 to submit a Medicaid parity implementation plan and then the CMS had 90 to approve it or ask for a revision. While California is not the only state yet to carry out the increase, it is the only one still seeking CMS approval of its plan.
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