The Sacramento Bee: California’s Medi-Cal program for poor grows to 12 million

BY JUDY LIN

Since California embraced the federal health care overhaul, the state’s Medicaid program for the poor has added more than 2.7 million people, a surprisingly high number that has left the state to grapple with making sure there are enough doctors to care for all of them.

Medi-Cal, the $95 billion joint federal-state program, covers 12 million people — nearly one in every three residents — for their doctor visits, hospital care, pregnancy-related services, as well as some nursing home care, making California the largest health care purchaser in the state.

The figure accounts for 17 percent of the nation’s Medicaid enrollment, even though California has 12 percent of the U.S. population.

Lawmakers and advocates say the safety net program has grown so big, so fast that without major fixes, California won’t be able to provide quality health care for its poor.

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