UC Health and Medi-Cal

On April 4, the Los Angeles Times published a contributed opinion piece about Medi-Cal patients at University of California’s health locations. Below is the University’s response.

University of California’s academic health centers are committed to their public service mission of improving the health of all Californians, especially the most vulnerable. UC’s health locations and providers are proud to serve as an essential part of California’s health care safety net system, providing high quality care to those in need regardless of whether individuals are insured or the type of health insurance they have.

Unfortunately, comments made in a recent opinion piece in Los Angeles Times do not accurately reflect how UC is supporting the health of the people of California. Together, UC’s academic health centers are the second-largest provider of Medi-Cal hospital services by most measures, despite representing less than 6 percent of the 74,297 non-federal, short-term, acute care hospital beds in the state. Across UC academic health centers, 35 percent of our patients are Medi-Cal enrollees, the system’s second largest type of patients by health plan coverage, ahead of all commercial health insurers. In the 2020 fiscal year, UC also provided $1.1 billion in care for people enrolled in Medi-Cal for which it was not reimbursed, a 47 percent increase since 2015.

As part of our public service mission, we also help ensure Medi-Cal enrollees have reliable access to primary care at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), such as the Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles staffed by UCLA employees, Sacramento County Health Center where care is delivered by UC Davis Health providers, and UCI Health Family Health Centers operated by UCI Health.

Additionally, UC is committed to ensuring access to the expertise of our specialists. Cancer care in particular is a priority. In the past year, UC cared for nearly 10,000 active cancer patients covered by Medi-Cal through its five comprehensive cancer centers. Nearly half of all Medi-Cal solid organ transplants occur at a UC location. Specialty clinics across the system regularly provide care to Medi-Cal patients in areas such as hematology, gastroenterology, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, ophthalmology and other specialties.

This work helps meet the needs of many, and we agree that more needs to be done to improve access to care across the state. When concerns are brought to our attention about our service, we take them seriously. With that in mind, we are looking into the questions raised by the recent opinion piece, and we will address any areas for improvement we find.

The University is proud of the work it does to improve the health and well-being of Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal. We will continue to look for ways to further our mission by improving access to care for all Californians, regardless of their circumstance.

Additional perspectives are shared in letters to the editor of Los Angeles Times from Dr. Carrie L. Byington and Dr. Sonia Ramamoorthy here.