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California Advocates, Lawmakers Oppose Governor's Proposed Clinic Payment Changes

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, May 21, 2012
About two million mostly low-income Californians get health care at up to 1000 community and rural clinics throughout the state.

In the Governor's proposed budget, the state would pay many of these clinics less, and in a different fashion.
Instead of getting paid per patient visit, clinics would get a lump sum for treating a patient per month, regardless of how many times they came in. And the state would pay out ten percent less money.

CASTELLANO-GARCIA: "They call it payment reform, but really it's a budget cut."

Carmela Castellano-Garcia is from the California Primary Care Association. She says they're open to discussing payment reform, but the governor's proposal would require change too quickly.

CASTELLANO-GARCIA: "It would have a very disruptive impact on clinics ability to function and be able to continue to provide services at the same level."

Norman Williams of the California Department of Health Care Services says the Governor's budget proposal would lift restrictions so that clinics could operate more efficiently and cost effectively.
For example, he says clinics could use technology to see patients outside clinic walls.
WILLIAMS: "It would incentive better quality care and efficiency, it would coordinate and integrate the various health services, and it would reduce the centers' cost and save the state money."

The governor's proposal is also unpopular with lawmakers. It has bipartisan opposition and was rejected by budget subcommittees in each house.
But Williams says changing the clinic payment structure is something they'll keep looking at beyond this budget season.
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