California’s health program for the poor and disabled, Medi-Cal, has presented state lawmakers with quite a perplexing paradox. More and more people fall under the protection of Medi-Cal and need a doctor but fewer and fewer doctors are accepting the low fees associated with the program. While a simple solution may appear to be increasing the size of the Medi-Cal budget, Medi-Cal is already stretching the state budget and squeezing other programs. Thus, dealing with the Medi-Cal mess has become a real problem for state lawmakers and the governor.
As former Gov. Schwarzenegger economic advisor David Crane pointed out in a Sacramento Bee op-ed, “Medi-Cal’s share of spending has grown 35 percent since Brown took office and now consumes one-sixth of the budget.”