Today, in a majority decision, the United States Supreme Court refused to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California ("Independent Living Center"). That court has previously sided with physicians and other providers, agreeing that interested parties should have the ability to sue in order to block cuts to California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal.
The case will now return to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The federal Medicaid Act requires that government insured and privately insured patients have equal access to medical care. If the state and federal government continue to cut funding to these programs, physicians will be forced to stop taking new patients, meaning that access to care will be greatly impacted.
“This is a win for physicians and their patients in California,” said James T. Hay, MD, President of the California Medical Association (CMA). “The lower court has previously ruled that interested parties indeed have the right to sue the state and federal government if the federal Medicaid Act is being violated. They will have the opportunity to decide that once again.”
The Supreme Court’s decision will have huge implications for the more than 10 million patients who are currently enrolled in California’s Medicaid program.
“The state cannot continue to propose sweeping cuts to programs for California’s poorest and most vulnerable patients,” Dr. Hay added. “Our hope is that they get the message loud and clear with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today.”
Through Medi-Cal, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, adult day health care providers, clinics and hospitals provide health care services to low-income seniors, families, children and people with disabilities. By providing these primary and preventive care services, the state ensures these Californians have access to health care, while at the same time saving money by lowering the chances they will be forced to seek more costly health care, such as emergency rooms or hospital admissions.
CMA is a party in the case.