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Calif. health facilities sue over Medicaid rate freeze

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 31, 2010

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A coalition of long-term-care facilities in California became the latest health care organization to sue state health officials to block a permanent Medicaid payment rate freeze that went into effect in August 2009.

The California Assn. of Health Facilities alleged that the freeze, which deprived long-term-care centers of pay raises ranging from 1% to 9%, is harming access to care for thousands of low-income patients with disabilities who depend on the facilities for services. The complaint, filed April 30 in a Los Angeles federal court, said the California Dept. of Health Care Services failed to re-evaluate the payment rates before instituting the freeze, a violation of federal Medicaid laws.

The action comes after state physicians, hospitals and pharmacies won favorable rulings in similar cases they filed challenging Medicaid cuts ranging from 5% to 10%.

The state has appealed some of those decisions. Officials maintain in court documents that they acted legally and that the rollbacks were necessary budgetary controls.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/05/31/gvbf0531.htm.

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