California Optometrists Disappointed with CMS Decision to Cut Medi-Cal Payment Rates
Sacramento, CA. November 1, 2011. The California Optometric Association (COA) remains committed to providing increased access to primary healthcare for Californians, in spite of our disappointment with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approval of a 10 percent cut to Medi-Cal payment rates.
The cuts included at the state's request are a 10 percent provider payment reduction on a number of outpatient services, including physicians, clinics, optometrists, therapists, laboratories, dental, durable medical equipment and pharmacy.
"California's Medi-Cal rates are already among the lowest in the nation, and many California healthcare providers already cannot afford to participate in the program," said Dr. David Redman O.D., Chair of COA's Legislative Committee. "Unfortunately, at the same time we have these cuts, federal health reform will add three million uninsured newly eligible for Medi-Cal in 2014."
"Federal law requires that Medi-Cal patients have equal access to health care as the general public," continued Dr. Redman. "California optometrists are committed to providing such access throughout California; however these new cuts will unquestionably cause irreparable harm to patients by forcing providers out of the Medi-Cal program."
Fewer providers lead to gaps in timely treatment for acute eye problems. This often results in more visits to the emergency room. In one published study, 38 percent of ophthalmological complaints to an ER could have been managed by an optometrist outside a hospital setting. To save money, Californians need more access to primary eye care, not less.
Additionally, routine eye exams can diagnose diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and other serious health conditions that cost more to treat if left undetected.
COA urges CMS to prevent the cuts and to work with providers and policymakers to find solutions for Californians.
About the California Optometric Association
Established in 1899, the California Optometric Association is California's oldest organized community for optometrists. Representing optometrists thoughout the state, COA is dedicated to ensuring the highest quality of health care for the public through the advancement of optometry. Learn more at www.coavision.org, www.Facebook.com/CaliforniaOptometric and www.Twitter.com/COA_Vision.