Emergency department doctors sue California

Frustrated by low reimbursement--and the threat of further cuts--a group of emergency department doctors have filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of California. The suit contends that unless emergency medicine is better funded, the state's entire emergency care system may fall apart.

Despite complaints over low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, the state legislature has already approved a bill cutting these rates from 1 percent to 5 percent starting March 1. What's more, the doctors are infuriated by a pending proposal that would cut another $1.1 billion from the state's strapped Medi-Cal plan, which ranks 43rd for reimbursement in indigent care plans across the country.

The ER doctors say they subsidized patient care to the tune of $100 million in 2007 alone, since Medi-Cal often covers only half of the cost of treatment. Meanwhile, the state ranks last in emergency departments per capita, with only seven per 1 million people, compared with a national average of 20.

To learn more about the dispute:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece

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