A proposal by state health officials to limit the number of doctor visits and prescriptions for those on Medi-Cal, the medical plan for the needy, will result in deaths and increased medical costs, witnesses told a state Assembly budget hearing last week.

A story by CaliforniaWatch today said patients testified the plan would be a “death sentence” and “barbaric.”

CaliforniaWatch said the 10-visit cap on doctor visits would save the state an estimated $200 million a year and affect 10 percent of the state’s patients who rely most heavily on Medi-Cal.

Several people who spoke during the hearing asked whether any savings the state achieves at doctors’ offices would be eaten up with soaring hospital bills.

The Department of Health Care Services, which proposed the caps, said it had not undertaken such an analysis.

That agency provided lawmakers with a summary showing that the caps would only impact 10 percent of Medi-Cal patients. That 10 percent of people, though, went to about 40 percent of the 3.3. million annual doctor or medical visits paid for my Medi-Cal, according to an analysis provided to lawmakers.

The notion that a small group of patients can run up a large medical tab is not new in medicine. And some of the latest research indicates that providing those patients with reliable and routine medical care is an effective way to cut medical costs.


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