Monday, September 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Medi-Cal expands to cover 30 percent of Californians

walters column sig

By
May 28, 2014 |

A half-century ago, a governor named Brown persuaded the California Legislature to embark on what those involved thought would be a modest new program of health care for poor Californians.

Medi-Cal, as it was dubbed, was California’s version of the national Medicaid program that had been attached to the new Medicare system of health care for the elderly.

At the time, California’s poor obtained medical care, if they did, from either charity or county-owned hospitals, and Medi-Cal was seen as a way of easing the burden on the counties’ taxpayers.

But as one of the participants in the Medi-Cal legislation, retired Assemblyman Gordon Duffy, recalled in an interview a few years ago, “No one in the world thought it through.”

It would not be the first time the Legislature adopted a sweeping new policy without fully considering its consequences, nor the last, unfortunately.

Then-Gov. Pat Brown, Duffy recalled, assured the Legislature that despite its complexity, state administrators could make Medi-Cal work. “They (the Brown administration) really pushed so hard on the positive effects. . . . Everyone said it was a wonderful thing.”

It has been, however, a political headache for every governor since.

Pat Brown’s son, Jerry, is now serving his second stint as governor and revealed earlier this month that Medi-Cal has mushroomed into a $90.6 billion-a-year program that will soon provide care to 11.5 million Californians, or 30 percent of the state’s population. That’s 50 percent higher than the national average.

Just since Brown released his proposed 2014-15 budget in January, Medi-Cal enrollment projections have jumped by 1.4 million people.

More than a million more Californians are coming into the program through the federal health care law, which expanded eligibility income limits upward with promises that the federal government would pay for virtually all costs.

However, the intense enrollment process has also encouraged many others who were already eligible, but had not signed up, to come forth, and the state must pay a substantial share of their costs. There’s a backlog of 900,000 applications for Medi-Cal that has overwhelmed the county-based eligibility system.

The $90.6 billion projected cost is mostly borne by the feds, but the state’s share has mushroomed to $17.4 billion, making it one of the largest single budget segments.

Brown says the Medi-Cal expansion is one of the “good news” aspects of his revised budget.

However, it also commits the state to billions of dollars of annual costs and thus contributes to longer-term fiscal instability. There are also legitimate doubts about the capacity – or even willingness – of medical providers to absorb this big increase since the state’s provider payments are among the nation’s lowest.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Tax PayerMay 27, 2014 - 6:29 am

    So 30% of California's poor and 50% higher than other states. Thank you Pat Brown for starting it and Jerry for continuing to run this state into the ground. Taxpayers can be excited to pay additional taxes to support this "black hole" entitlement.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacMay 27, 2014 - 8:05 am

    We need to dump this program. Die faster poor folks, die faster.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 27, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Step #1 to bankruptcy : Give everyone free medical

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • ter666May 27, 2014 - 11:10 am

    I'm afraid step 1 to bankruptcy has already been implemented...unsustainable pensions.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensMay 27, 2014 - 9:17 pm

    Why Jerry Brown and Obama loved the poor so much that they created millions more of them. How many of those signing up for their ''free'' healthcare are not US citizens? 20%? 30%? . If the news media were doing their jobs, they would start interviewing these California medi-cal clients to see what they think of their free healthcare. I bet its Iike the VA's system----long waits, substandard care and angry customers.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Highway 12 project nears completion

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

‘Snail mail’ still kinda cool

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Senior center schedules discussion on senior travel

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Local government schedule meetings

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Car club raises funds, supplies for SPCA

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Democrats plan candidates meet, greet

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Stand Up 2 Cancer Viewing party set in Vacaville

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Goodwill opens Outlet Store in Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Premier post details of new lease

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

 
Il Fiorello to host jazz event

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
New doctors join NorthBay

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

Small earthquakes shake Solano

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

Is social media enlarging or stifling democracy?

By Cynthia M. Allen | From Page: A8

 
Compromise on Cordelia Road rail crossing costs

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

Justice for all

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 9 Comments

 
Good job, Susan Winlow

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

Editorial Cartoon: Sept. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
 
Whopper of a tax dodge for Burger King

By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8, 26 Comments

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Sept. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Is my husband right when he says men aren’t made for monogamy?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 2, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office

By Jake Coyle | From Page: A11

Joan Rivers’ daughter: I’m keeping fingers crossed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Kahne holds off Kenseth to win Atlanta shootout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Wozniacki outlasts Sharapova, in US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Falcons looking to be defensive

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Source: 49ers OL Boone agrees to new 2-yr deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49er Ray McDonald accused of domestic violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Sam clears waivers, meets with Fisher

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
FC Kansas City wins NWSL title over Seattle, 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders claim DE Mayowa off waivers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jensen waived after Jaguars awarded TE Shuler

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Otto wins Italian Open; Gallacher comes up short

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Weather for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Henley takes a 1-shot lead at Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Dunn dealt to A’s, could be his last shot playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Fred Couples wins Champions Tour event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
A’s frustrated after 8-1 loss caps sweep by Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Ernst wins LPGA’s Portland Classic in playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Giants power past Brewers 15-5 for 3-game sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Down at half, US beats Turkey in basketball worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Source: Chiefs’ Smith agrees to 4-yr extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tony Stewart’s return to race track ends early

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Laurie Danielson Bailey

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Hazel Gertrude Wamsley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Jerry Lee Trammell

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 6 Comments

 
.

Comics

B.C. Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

Sally Forth Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7