LA County Supervisors fight for Medicaid funding

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Kitty Felde/KPCC

LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky on Capitol Hill on May 4, 2011.

The House of Representatives voted last month to change the way the federal government pays for health care for the poor. LA lawmakers say the change will “short change” local communities. They’re making that case in Washington, D.C., this week.

The 2012 budget passed by the House changes the federal Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal in California. The GOP proposal offers block grants instead of matching the money that states spend on healthcare for the poor. But LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky says block grants freeze spending.

"The poor are not freezing," he says. "The elderly are not freezing. The number of people who rely on federal health care programs is increasing. Yet we’re going to have a freeze on health care spending. That’s not going to last long. It’s not sustainable."

Yaraslovsky says Cedars-Sinai, Hollywood Presbyterian and other private hospitals also treat the poor and rely “heavily” on Medi-Cal payments to stay open.

County supervisors met with the President and cabinet officials to figure out how to defeat the Medicaid block grant proposal in the Senate.

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