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Stop Destroying Medi-Cal !    Restore the "Optional Benefits" !

Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2009. Gray Panthers, Senior Action Network, and Healthcare Action Team protested outside the San Francisco Federal Building against the termination of Medi-Cal’s “optional benefits,” while lawyers inside pressed for emergency Preliminary Injunctions to force California to restore the benefits.

Since July, some 2.5 million of California’s poorest residents on Medi-Cal have lost their access to adult dentistry, podiatry, vision and hearing testing, speech therapy, psychological services, chiropractics,  acupuncture, and incontinence creams and washes. (See leaflet below.)

The Medicaid Defense Fund, Gray Panthers, and other health advocates argued in US District Court that California intends to accept two years of increased federal Medicaid money under the Stimulus Bill, but the Stimulus Bill stipulates that  states must maintain existing Medicaid services to qualify for the funds.

We sought emergency Preliminary Injunctions against (1) California's stopping the Medi-Cal "Optional Benefits," (denied by Judge Hamilton), and (2) California's diverting the Medicaid Stimulus money into unintended destinations, (Judge Hamilton's ruling pending.) One or both rulings will be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court as soon as Judge Hamilton's rulings are written up, within two weeks.  Read more from the California Disability Community Action Network, including those excepted from termination of the Medi-Cal "Optional Benefits."   Later news: (Sept. 22) Judge Hamilton's ruling in both matters (1) and (2) above are being appealed in a brief filed today by Lynn Carman, of the Medicaid Defense Fund. (Read more.)

The lawyer for this  suit, Lynn Carman, recently successfully sued to  stop California's 10% cuts to doctors, pharmacists, clinics and adult day health facilities that provide Medi-Cal services. SF Gray Panthers were also a plantiff in this earlier suit.

In another unrelated court victory, on Sept. 11, a federal judge in Oakland ordered the state to stop cuts to the Adult Day Health Care program, ruling that scaling back services (from five days per week to three days per week) could force thousands of poor, elderly and disabled people to be institutionalized. Read more.

Stop Destroying Medi-Cal and Healthcare
For Poor and Working-Class Californians!

Demonstration: Wednesday, August 19, 9 - 11 AM
Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate,
Between Polk and Larkin Sts

Today, health advocates are suing  California to restore Medi-Cal patients’ so-called “optional benefits.”   How dare they call them “optional"!  Ask the 2.5 million Medi-Cal recipients living on less than $1,000 per month, if it’s OK to lose these services:

Is it OK to lose your teeth and not eat healthy food, because of no dental care?

Is it OK for diabetics to lose their feet and legs, because of no foot care?

Is it OK to not have glasses or lose your sight, because of no eye exams?

Is it OK not to hear your family or friends, because of no hearing testing?

Is it OK for victims of stroke to become mute, because of no speech therapy?

Is it OK for troubled people to become mentally ill, because of no psychologists?

These services are NOT optional for anyone, rich or poor!  ALL people have a right to decent healthcare and decent lives.  We demand equality!

Previously, these services were covered only when “medically necessary” to protect life, prevent significant illness or disability, or alleviate severe pain. How, then,  can they now be considered “optional”?

Eliminating these benefits will badly stress Medi-Cal’s remaining services to accommodate more serious diseases among its patients. And Emergency Rooms, hospitals, and clinics caring for the completely uninsured will lose badly-needed Medi-Cal revenue.

Many of these cuts are permanent. The current budget crisis is an excuse to permanently tear away the social safety net we spent decades fighting for!  

The Governor and Legislature give corporations and the rich billions in tax breaks, while forcing cuts that will kill us!   No More!   Make the Bosses Take the Losses!

Join us at the court hearing site to demand restoration of the Medi-Cal optional benefits and other vital health and human services.  More information at 415-215-7575.

Gray Panthers, 1182 Market St, Rm. 203,  SF 94110, 415-552-8800
Health Action Team, 965 Mission Street, Rm. 550, SF 94103, 415-703-0188
Senior Action Network, 965 Mission St, Rm. 705, SF, 94103, 415 546-1333

Read Poor Magazine's "Poor People Only Have HELLthcare"

Read Poor Magazine's "Getting Our HELLthcare Back!"

Thanks to Planning for Elders for the photo.

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