California Medi-Cal Patients Sue State for Discrimination, Citing Unfair Reimbursement Rates

A group of Medi-Cal beneficiaries filed a lawsuit against the state Wednesday, alleging that low payments to doctors are creating an unequal healthcare system in California.

Thomas A. Saenz, an attorney representing the plaintiffs and president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the state is required to provide coverage to low-income Californians through Medi-Cal that’s equivalent to the care other Californians receive through private insurance or Medicare.

But Medi-Cal patients have a harder time finding doctors, wait longer for appointments, end up in the emergency room more often and have their diseases diagnosed later than those in other insurance programs, Saenz said. That’s in part because the state mismanages the health program and delays payments to doctors, making them unwilling to see Medi-Cal patients, he said.

But “the big issue is that the reimbursement rates … are woefully, woefully inadequate,” Saenz said in an interview.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.