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Challenges of reforming Medi-Cal come to light as lawsuit accuses state system of discrimination




A doctor speaks to a patient as a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure meter, lies on his desk on September 5, 2012.
A doctor speaks to a patient as a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure meter, lies on his desk on September 5, 2012.
Adam Berry/Getty Images

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Arguing that doctors don’t get paid enough to see Medi-Cal patients and therefore won’t take them on, a group of beneficiaries are suing the state of California for violating the civil rights of Latinos, who make up about half of the people on Medi-Cal.

The lawsuit is not the first time this issue has been flagged. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, sent a letter to the federal government back in 2015 asking it to find that California was violating Latinos civil rights due to how difficult it is for Medi-Cal beneficiaries to access care. The state responded in 2016 and said that there were provisions in place to remedy situations where Medi-Cal beneficiaries are denied timely access.

What are the challenges to reforming Medi-Cal? Even if this lawsuit is successful, what legislative and financial troubles would there be in terms of increasing reimbursements for doctors?

You can read the full complaint here.

Guests:

Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)

Doug Badger, senior fellow at the Galen Institute, a nonprofit public policy research organization on healthcare issues; he was a senior White House adviser to President George W. Bush on health-related issues