Medi-Cal patients get ripple effect of pay cut

August 12, 2008 12:44:38 AM PDT
The budget stalemate is causing a legal stand-off between Governor Schwarzenegger and State Controller John Chiang. Chiang refuses to allow state workers' salaries to be temporarily cut until lawmakers hash out a new budget. However, the lack of a budget is now affecting another group, Medi-Cal patients.

State Controller John Chung stood up to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) of California, in court on Monday. Schwarzenegger is suing Chung for not following his orders to lower workers' pay to $6.55 an hour during this budget stand still.

"He's going to waste taxpayer dollars for unnecessary litigation. I would encourage the governor to try a better course, to work with the legislators, to remedy this budget impasse," said John Chiang (D) the state controller.

"We're asking the state controller to comply with the court ruling that said in the absence of a state budget, he can pay state employees no more than what is required under federal labor law, which is the federal minimum wage," said Lynelle Jolley, the California department of personal administration.

The cuts are supposed to save the state $1 billion a month. That means a full-time state worker could make $262 a week and upper management could be making $455 a week.

"Just concerned about feeding my family actually," said Casey Valdez, a state worker.

"I'm worried about it, everybody's worried about it because it affects their lives," said Lolita Junio, a state worker.

"It's going be a crisis for all the state workers," said Kim Phan, a state worker.

However, state workers aren't the only ones impacted by the budget stalemate. This week the state will stop reimbursing doctors and hospitals who accept Medi-Cal.

"For 30 years this has been the home for needy patients, we have not refused anybody, but right now, we don't have any choice," said Dr. Fred Mansubi M.D., a pediatrician.

Not a lot has changed over the years, at Dr. Mansubi's San Jose practice, including health care policies. Regardless, because of the budget, for the first time, he's no longer accepting new Medi-Cal patients.

"Everybody loses, especially the needy patients because nobody will accept them," said Dr. Fred Mansubi.

Right now, the doctor sees about 60 Medi-Cal patients a week. He thinks it'll take the state at least six months to pay him back.

As for state workers who've been promised back pay once the budget is signed, they're hoping reimbursement will come a lot sooner.


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