In the ongoing effort to balance the state’s budget amid the economic downturn, the State of California decided late last year to cut Medi-Cal reimbursement rates by 10%. In the ongoing effort to preserve their fees, various professional organizations including the California Hospital Association sued.
Last week U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder gave a temporary ruling stopping the cuts to Medi-Cal reimbursement rates. It is actually the second similar decision made in this case. The issue in the case is whether AB 97, the law authorizing the cuts, is allowed by various other federal and state laws governing healthcare. Although that decision has not yet been made, the court has determined that Californians could face difficulty accessing health care in the time between when AB 97 was passed and when the court makes a decision about whether AB 97 is legal.
So what does all this legal mumbo-jumbo mean to you? The argument is that if cuts to Medi-Cal reimbursements are allowed to happen, many California doctors, skilled nursing facilities, and other care providers will not be able to afford to continue providing medical care to Medi-Cal patients. This would limit the options available to many low-income and elderly residents of the state and provide less income to the health care professionals who continue in the system.
So far, Judge Christina A. Snyder agrees that the potential of limiting Californians’ access to certain health care providers because of cost cuts is a big enough deal that she will not allow the cost cuts to go into effect. We will have to see what is ultimately decided in the case to know whether the cost cuts can ever go into effect. For now, the lesson to be learned is Plan Plan Plan for the days when your health care may become an issue for your family.
I often recommend planning for Medicaid and Medi-Cal eligibility for certain clients and this type of planning remains important. However, your whole health care plan is literally of vital importance. Have you decided who will make medical decisions for you if you can’t? If not, you should make sure you do as quickly as possible through an Advance Health Care Directive. If you are hospitalized or incapacitated, who will make sure your bills get paid? A Financial Power of Attorney authorizes a person you designate to access your finances and make certain financial decisions for you.
If you find yourself in need of long-term care, how will you and your family pay for it? Finding out now what programs you can qualify for, how much insurance you need, and other important considerations can save your family from dealing with bill collectors before and after your illness or death.
Have you created all of these documents and gotten everything in order “years ago?” I’m sure I don’t have to be the one to tell you, but things have changed in the last few years. Not only are planning documents from a decade ago often insufficient, but even just in the last few years the laws have evolved.
When I create an estate plan, I want to make one that will grow with you, but I have to plan as if you could die the next day. I have to apply the law and your preferences as they stand on the day we create your documents. If your estate planning documents have not been reviewed for several years, you should have them reviewed as soon as possible.