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Doctors and patients – what’s your experience with Medi-Cal?




In this Feb. 18, 2016 file photo, Doctor Leonid Basovich, left, examines Medi-Cal patient Michael Epps, at the WellSpace Clinic in Sacramento, Calif.
In this Feb. 18, 2016 file photo, Doctor Leonid Basovich, left, examines Medi-Cal patient Michael Epps, at the WellSpace Clinic in Sacramento, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

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If you’re on Medi-Cal, it’s likely more difficult for you to get health care access, including appointments and services like psychiatry, than for Medicaid recipients in others states.

On a related note, out of all the states in the U.S., California ranks 48th in how much it pays physicians who take on Medi-Cal recipients.

As charted by Matt Levin’s recent CalMatters piece “Paying Doctors More-Now Will They Treat More Poor Californians?” the idea being pushed by civil rights groups and labor unions is that doctors would be more likely to take on Medi-Cal patients if they got larger reimbursements for them. These groups have won a small victory in the new California budget, which allocates $325 million in reimbursement money to doctors who see more Medi-Cal patients. It’s a tiered system of bonuses that correlates to the complexity of the patient’s ailment, with the least complicated patients being worth an additional $10 per visit and patients with the most complex ailments checking out to an additional $50 per visit.

But is that enough of a raise to incentivize doctors to take on more patients? The administrative burdens of navigating Medi-Cal, as well as payment delays are additional factors that doctors have to contend with. Still, groups like the California Medical Association say increased reimbursements, no matter how small, are a step in the right direction.

We want to hear from you. If you’re a doctor, what’s your experience with Medi-Cal? Do you accept patients with Medi-Cal? Why or why not? And if you’re on Medi-Cal, how do you feel about your access to health care in California?

Guest:

Janet Coffman, associate professor of health policy at UCSF school of medicine