Civil rights vi­o­la­tions al­leged against Lati­nos un­der Medi-Cal

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Lisa Schencker

Cal­i­for­nia’s low Med­i­caid re­im­burse­ment rates have led to a dearth of care for many of the state’s Latino res­i­dents, and that’s a vi­o­la­tion of their civil rights, ac­cord­ing to a com­plaint filed Tues­day with HHS’ Of­fice for Civil Rights.

Ad­vo­cates want the fed­eral agency to or­der the state to raise pri­mary-care and cer­tain spe­cialty-care re­im­burse­ment rates.

“By low­er­ing re­im­burse­ment rates as Lati­nos have in­creased their use of Med­i­Cal, Cal­i­for­nia un­der­mines strides re­cently made in ex­pand­ing health ac­cess and treats Lati­nos as sec­ond-class pa­tients,” Thomas Saenz, pres­i­dent and gen­eral coun­sel of the Mex­i­can Amer­i­can Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tional Fund, one of the groups be­hind the com­plaint, said in a state­ment.

More than 7 mil­lion Lati­nos are en­rolled in Medi-Cal. Lati­nos were 63% of Medi-Cal en­rollees in 2014, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

The groups filed the com­plaint on be­half of Analilia Jimenez Perea and her son Saul Jimenez Perea, who has cere­bral palsy and is semi­para­plegic. Perea had been pre­vi­ously un­able to se­cure doc­tors’ ap­point­ments and treat­ment for her son, now 31, be­cause she couldn’t find physi­cians who would ac­cept Med­i­Cal pa­tients.

The Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Health Care Ser­vices did not re­turn re­quests for com­ment.

Catha Worth­man, an at­tor­ney for those bring­ing the com­plaint with Fein­berg, Jackson, Worth­man & Wa­sow, said she’s not aware of any other sim­i­lar com­plaints filed in Cal­i­for­nia or else­where in the coun­try.

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