AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS organization in the US and operator of free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, and Central America, will host a press conference tomorrow, Thursday, July 1st at 12 noon, at AHF's Westside Pharmacy (99 N. La Cienega, Suite 200, Los Angeles) to protest proposed - yet illegal - cuts to California's budget that seek to cut Medi-Cal's pharmacy budget and reimbursement structure.
Should the Governor sign the budget as is, these proposed cuts would wreak havoc with the health and the welfare of the millions of Californians covered under Medi-Cal. These cuts would harm many of the state's most vulnerable citizens - AIDS and other chronically-ill patients - and would also harm many independent 'mom and pop' pharmacies that provide specialized, disease- specific pharmacy services to such high-acuity patient populations.
"As the budget deadline looms, we urge the Legislature and Governor to do the right thing and not try to balance the budget on the backs of the state's sickest patients and the independent 'mom & pop' and specialty pharmacies that care for such vulnerable California patients," said Michael Weinstein, AHF President. "Not only would this move be immoral, but it's also illegal, as it breaks federal Medicaid regulations. AHF will seek an injunction in federal court to prevent the implementation of these cuts should they remain in this budget."
The cuts would also be illegal. California is required by federal Medicaid statute to study the impact such cuts and changes would have on the Medicaid population before implementing such cuts. At the press conference, AHF and health advocates will announce plans to seek an injunction in federal court to prevent implementation of these cuts should the budget pass unchanged.
Last fall, a federal court in California granted an injunction in a similar action brought by AHF and the California Medical Association (CMA), and more than a dozen other California physicians, pharmacists and health care providers in a lawsuit against California's DHS over their slashing reimbursements to medical providers - physicians, pharmacists, health clinics, managed care plans - for care and services they provide to patients under the state's Medi-Cal (Medicaid) program. In that instance, the health advocates' legal action opposing a proposed five percent cut (which was expected to yield a savings of more than $115 million), was granted a preliminary injunction by the federal court.