California a surprise healthcare obstacle

Sept. 15, 2011 at 6:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Budget-challenged California is proposing Medicare cuts that analysts say cast doubt on the capacity of U.S. healthcare law to expand access to healthcare.

While conservative states such as Virginia and Florida have launched constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act, California is giving the administration some unexpected headaches in its effort to expand access to healthcare in America, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

In the face of its own debt problems, the Golden State is aggressively cutting its healthcare safety net, with state leaders pressing the administration to agree to some of the toughest restrictions on government-subsidized healthcare in the country, the newspaper said.

"There are states that are bellwethers. California is one of them," Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program, told the Times.

If the U.S. government approves California's requests, other states are sure to follow, she said.

One state proposal includes capping the frequency with which Medicare recipients can see a doctor.

"Health reform is badly in need of success stories, and early success in California could add decisive momentum," said Drew Altman, president of the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. "But if California bogs down, or if there is an implementation failure, it would be a huge negative for the whole implementation effort nationally."

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