When the California Endowment, a private foundation that promotes access to affordable healthcare, offered the state government $6 million to help prevent poor Californians from dropping out of the Medi-Cal health insurance program, you might have expected officials to smile and say "Thank you." Instead, the Brown administration, which projected that the state would save money if more people dropped out of Medi-Cal, persuaded lawmakers to remove the funds from the budget for the coming fiscal year. That was a bad call. As important as it may be to control healthcare costs, the wrong way to save money on Medi-Cal is to hope that fewer people use it.
Medi-Cal is the state's version of Medicaid, a joint effort with the federal government to insure the poorest Californians. The 2010
The California Endowment, which gave the state $26.5 million last year to help bring newly eligible state residents into Medi-Cal, offered $6 million this year for grants to community groups to guide recipients through the new renewal process. The money would be doubled by a matching grant from Washington. Nevertheless, the Brown administration argued that the counties, which have a huge backlog of Medi-Cal applicants, don't need the help. That's so absurd, it seems like a cynical pretext for cutting Medi-Cal costs by reducing enrollment.