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Organized medicine weighs in on California Medicaid lawsuit

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 22, 2011

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The American Medical Association and others are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of California medical professionals in a lawsuit challenging state Medicaid pay reductions.

The AMA filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief on Aug. 5 with the American Dental Assn., the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and several other organizations. At issue is whether Medicaid doctors and other participants have the right to sue in federal court to enforce federal Medicaid law.

The case stems from several lawsuits fighting pay cuts in California's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal. California lawmakers proposed the cuts to close annual budget deficits of $20 billion or more in recent years. Physicians, hospitals, pharmacists and other health professionals in 2008 sued to fight a 10% cut scheduled for July of that year. Two other health care organizations also sued over the reductions.

A lower court blocked the Medicaid pay reductions. California appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is expected to be heard in October.

In its brief, the AMA said without adequate payment for physicians, it is unrealistic to expect doctors to participate in the Medicaid program, thus leading to a lack of care for Medicaid recipients.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/08/22/gvbf0822.htm.

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