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Study finds widespread care disparities in Medi-Cal program
Date:3/28/2008

In the first external analysis of the California Department of Health Service's Medi-Cal Managed Care program, researchers from the UCLA Department of Family Medicine found widespread health care disparities based on ethnicity, race and language throughout the system.

And African Americans are bearing the brunt of it.

These disparities can lead to a lower quality of care for the state's minority populations, resulting in poorer health for these groups, as well as higher health care and social costs. The UCLA researchers make a series of recommendations aimed at correcting these disparities.

The study findings were presented March 27 during a health policy briefing in Sacramento aimed at informing legislative staff and academics about the challenges facing Medi-Cal. The University of California's California Program on Access to Care, which funded the study, sponsored the briefing.

"Medicaid is the largest provider of health care services to low-income ethnic minority populations in our nation," said Dr. Michael Rodriguez, associate professor of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and co-director of the Network for Multicultural Research on Health and Healthcare. "Therefore, it is in Medicaid's best interest to reduce health care disparities in order to promote good health, reduce preventable medical complications and reduce health care costs."

The researchers examined 2006 data from eight health plans that contract with California's Medi-Cal Managed Care Division (MMCD) Blue Cross of California, Central Coast Alliance for Health, Contra Costa Health Plan, Health Net, Inland Empire Health Plan, Kern Health Systems, LA Care and San Francisco Health Plan. The eight plans together serve about 70 percent of MMCD beneficiaries.

Among MMCD enrollees, 55.2 percent are Hispanic, 16.6 percent are non-Hispanic white, 13.1 percent are black/African-American and 11.7 percent are Asia
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Contact: Enrique Rivero
erivero@earthlink.net
310-794-2273
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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