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Advocates Urge 'Vigilance' to Ensure Care for New Medi-Cal Patients

Apr 22, 2014

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Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California’s Medi-cal program has seen a huge surge in enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento about what those patients can expect when they try to see a doctor. 

California officials say they’re pleased to see 1.9 million have signed up under the Medi-Cal expansion.  

Toby Douglas: “1.9 million is far more than we ever projected, and there are even more that we’re working to get on as quickly as possible.”

Director of the California Department of Health Care Services Toby Douglas says the state now has work to do. 

Toby Douglas: “And the challenge is now is on all of us to make sure that we’re getting everyone access to care.” 

Consumer advocates say even before the surge in new enrollees, Medi-Cal patients had problems seeing providers, partly because of low doctor reimbursement rates. Anthony Wright of Health Access wants the state to be vigilant in making sure Medi-Cal health plans meet access standards.    

Anthony Wright: “The requirement is not that every patient gets to see every doctor, but that every patient gets to see a doctor that they need, in the place that they need, within the time that they need it.”  

Most Medi-Cal patients can expect to see a primary care physician within 10 miles or 30 minutes of their homes.  Patients should be able to make an appointment within 2 to 4 days for urgent health problems, and 10 days for a non-urgent meeting with a family doctor. 

Health Access say Medi-Cal patients who have problems getting care, should contact their health plan, or the state agency that regulates it.