Hospital Patients, Family Members Speak Out About Damaging Medi-Cal Budget Cuts

New Series of Videos Captures Fears About Impact on Frail, Elderly Patients

May 16, 2013, 17:55 ET from California Hospital Association

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As budget discussions begin to kick into high gear following Tuesday's release of the May revision to the proposed 2013-14 state budget,  those most directly affected by the pending Medi-Cal payment cuts are speaking out.  

In a compelling new series of documentary-style videos produced by the California Hospital Association (CHA), the family members of those who work, live and depend on hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities across the state are sharing their personal stories about the vital health care services that are being put at risk by the Brown Administration's failure to reverse deep and damaging Medi-Cal rate cuts.

Ginny Kylberg, whose mother is being cared for at Eastern Plumas Health Care in Plumas County, is alarmed that her loved one and many others may be forced to move  hundreds of miles away if the local hospital is forced to close.

"They are the most vulnerable in our society," Kylberg, who is featured in the video about Eastern Plumas Health Care, says.  "They worked and lived and paid taxes all their lives.  Taking away the money, the funding for these hospitals, would be criminal."

The proposed Medi-Cal cuts to health care providers stem from legislation enacted in 2011 (AB 97).  Although the payment reductions amount to a 10 percent reduction for doctors and most other health care providers, the cuts are much deeper – averaging 25 percent or greater – for hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities.

"Medi-Cal beneficiaries make up more than 70 percent of the patients receiving hospital-based skilled-nursing care," said CHA President/CEO C. Duane Dauner.  "These patients require specialized, medically complex care that freestanding nursing facilities and other health care providers will not or cannot provide. In the last five years, approximately 40 hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities in California (about one-third) have closed due to financial issues that further jeopardize California's health care safety net."

According to Dauner, the new videos will "bring home in a compelling manner" the real-life impacts that these cuts will have on patients, their families and local communities across the state.

CHA is part of a broad coalition of health care providers and workers who are co-sponsoring two bills – AB 900 (Alejo) and SB 640 (Lara) – that would reverse the pending Medi-Cal cuts, which to date have not been implemented as a result of ongoing litigation.  In releasing its May revision to the proposed budget earlier this week, the Brown Administration has signaled that state officials plan to move forward with these payment reductions in the upcoming fiscal year.

In addition to the video about the impact of the cuts to Eastern Plumas, six other videos illustrate the impact of the Medi-Cal cuts in communities across the state.  See below for links to all of the videos.   

Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center

Palomar Health's Villa Pomerado

Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital

Jewish Home of San Francisco

Coalinga Regional Medical Center

Mayers Memorial Hospital

SOURCE California Hospital Association