After their access to healthcare has been restricted by low and late reimbursements, Latinos filed complaint against Medi-Cal.
Medi-Cal is the Californian version of Medicaid, serving over 12.5 million citizens of which almost two-thirds are Lationo.
According to the advocates, as more Latinos have been covered by the program, the reimbursement rates for health care providers have dropped. The program is funded by both state and federal government and yet the reimbursement rates are some of the lowest in the U.S.
The complaint is based on both the Civil Rights Act and on the A.C.A. (Affordable Care Act), which prohibits discrimination by health programs funded with federal money.
Thomas Saenz, president of MALDEF – an advocacy organization for Mexicans, argues that by keeping the reimbursement rates low, the state of California discriminates against the majority of its clients, which are Latino people.
Officials of the state’s Department of Health Care refused to comment on the complaint but claimed that the department monitors access in the Medi-Cal program and they try to serve all beneficiaries equally.
The complaint is part of a longer action taken by advocates, which includes lawsuits and lobbying to increase reimbursements in Medi-Cal program after many health care providers claimed that they cannot afford to treat Medi-Cal patients.
The complaint includes the specific cases of two Medi-Cal beneficiaries whose access to health care has been delayed by the low reimbursement rates. One senior man who couldn’t find a surgeon for his hernia and another man with cerebral palsy who was made to wait 18 months to be seen by a neurologist.
Many other Latino beneficiaries of Medi-Cal say they also had problems especially given by huge delays. One lady says she had to wait one year for a colonoscopy. Another one says that her disabled son once had trouble urinating and he has been referred to an urologist who was located in another town 40 miles away. The woman, who had no personal transportation, argues that she had never even heard the name of that city before.
Attorneys at the National Health Law Program say they have daily cases of people with restricted access to health care. However, attorney Abbi Coursolle claims that no one should have to call a lawyer in order to see a doctor.
The Office of Civil Rights within the DHHS has to investigate the claim in the next six months, with the possibility of sending it to the Department of Justice.
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