Senate health bill would leave Medi-Cal with $115-billion shortfall through 2027, analysis finds

The Senate healthcare bill released last week would leave California short $115 billion for its Medi-Cal program between 2020 and 2027, according to a state analysis released Wednesday.

The Medi-Cal program, which is jointly funded by the state and federal government, grew dramatically under the Affordable Care Act to cover 13.5 million Californians, or 1 out of 3 state residents.

The Senate bill proposes effectively undoing the expansion of the program, which added 3.9 million Californians to the program over the last three years. It also would change the financing structure of the entire program, which largely serves low-income and disabled Californians, so the state would take on more of the costs.

Jennifer Kent, head of the state’s Department of Health Care Services, said that the cuts would force officials to consider reductions in benefits or who can stay in Medi-Cal.

“This bill takes a sledgehammer to the improvements we have made in our state’s healthcare delivery system,” she said.

Medi-Cal’s annual budget is $107 billion.

Under the bill, the state would face an extra $3 billion in costs in 2020, which would grow to $30 billion by 2027. That could be a quarter of the program’s total budget.

“The long-term impact of this bill cannot be understated: It is simply devastating,” Kent said.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that the bill would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million.

GOP leaders this week delayed the vote on the Senate bill until after the July 4 holiday.

soumya.karlamangla@latimes.com

Twitter: @skarlamangla

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