Saturday, April 25, 2015
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 [email protected]

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

 
House of Floyd gears up for Vacaville show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Spring band festival gets new life in Fairfield

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1, 4 Comments

 
Students showcase artistic talents at annual show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Groups offer ‘The Raising of America’ sneak peek

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B2

Muslim women in post 9/11 world topic of play

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

 
Durst will perform at Children’s Network benefit

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B2

 
Dixon May Fair offers sneak peek

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
 
 
Fairfield police log: April 22, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 22, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Few vets getting care through $10 billion VA program

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Google CEO compensation tops $100M

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Pentagon eyes possible use of cyberwarfare in the future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
San Diego man arrested in terror case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Wife of slain mayor accused of manslaughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Cesar Chavez gets full military honors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Judge denies parole to former Manson Family member

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Evidence building of fracking-caused earthquakes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Petraeus sentenced to 2 years’ probation for military leak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Gay marriage a difficult issue for GOP White House hopefuls

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Loretta Lynch wins confirmation as attorney general

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

American, Italian hostages killed in US drone strike

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
New DNA codes for mammoths: Step toward bringing them back?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Armenians mark 100-year anniversary of massacres

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Thousands evacuated following Chilean eruption

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
European leaders rally to solve migrant ship issue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Living

Community Calendar: April 24, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Friday, April 24, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 24, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My late husband’s brother still has drum set meant for my son

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview April 24-30, 2015

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Basses discuss being black opera singers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
American Indian actors quit Adam Sandler movie over names

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment Calendar: April 24, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Facing the second album challenge with Alabama Shakes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
.

Sports

 
Prep track: Indians boys roll to win in four-way meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

Vanden girls soccer rally late for 3-3 tie with American Canyon

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Warriors erase 20-point hole, beat Pelicans 123-119 in OT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Maxwell hits winning single in 10th, Giants sweep Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Aaron Hernandez moved to new prison after murder conviction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Manfred: Rose will be allowed to be part of All-Star Game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

New track announcer taking the mike at Churchill Downs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
WNBA’s Griner, fiancee Glory Johnson arrested after fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Tyrone Wallace to stay at Cal for senior season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

BALCO & Biogenesis may be over, but steroids cloud remains

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Toyota to provide 1st hydrogen-fueled pace car

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

6 Hall of Famers to announce picks at NFL draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
A’s take hard-luck 2-0 loss despite allowing 1 hit to Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Home run king Barry Bonds’ legacy might always be tarnished

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Sleek new plans released for Los Angeles-area NFL stadium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

This date in sports history for April 24

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Boo Weekley, Brendon de Jonge share Zurich Classic lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Champ Lydia Ko takes first-round lead in Swinging Skirts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Michael Crabtree joins Raiders with something to prove

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

 
5 things to know about GM’s revamped Chevy Malibu

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Ford unveils new Taurus influenced by China

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Toyota tops in 1Q global vehicle sales

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Unemployment numbers point to improved job security

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Home sales off to slow start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Nasdaq closes at record high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
China fines Mercedes after price-fixing probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Agriculture officials look to curtail emissions from farming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Vernell Stewart

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Kim Nguyen

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Gladys Speaks

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9