Medicaid providers in California win in legal challenge over program cuts

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The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a federal appeals court ruling that says California's Medicaid providers have a right to challenge state cuts to Medi-Cal provider fees.

Victor Norma Jean Vescovo, the executive director of the Independent Living Center of Southern California, says the ruling will make it easier to ensure state Medicaid (known in the state as Medi-Cal) cuts will be made for needs-based reasons, not just economic reasons, the Bureau of National Affairs reported. David Maxwell-Jolly, director of California's Department of Health Care Services, argued in a petition that providers and beneficiaries are not authorized under the Medicaid Act to enforce the federal standards laid out in that law. He said the high court should review the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court disagreed, and denied review of the federal appeals court decision. The official case title is "Maxwell-Jolly v. Independent Living Center of Southern California, U.S., No. 08-1223."

The Supreme Court's decision to deny a review could set a precedent for providers across the country to challenge state cuts to Medicaid fees and services under the Medicaid Act. California currently is facing a major budget deficit of $24 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has proposed a series of drastic cuts to state services, including the state's Medicaid program, which funds a major portion of nursing home costs.
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