Sacramento – In what was a clear violation of law, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) repeatedly denied requests by the California Medical Association (CMA) for information regarding California’s state plan amendment that was submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in June of last year.
This week, the court ruled that the state was not following proper protocol by refusing to share information with CMA. The official signed judgment states that “documents exchanged between DHCS and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services… are not subject to the deliberative process privilege claimed by DHCS.” The court also ruled that “the relationship between DHCS and CMS is fundamentally different from that involved in cases which have recognized a deliberative process privilege and any benefit derived from keeping discussions confidential is substantially diminished in this context.”
“This is a victory for patients in California,” said James T. Hay, M.D., CMA President. “Data conducted by independent sources shows that access to care would be substantially impacted by cuts to California’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal). Our request of the state was simple – we wanted to see information they claimed to have showing the contrary.”
The state was required to submit underlying documents to CMS clearly documenting that access to care for Medi-Cal patients would not be impacted by the state plan amendment.
In February 2012, the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued a ruling that would block the proposed cuts from being implemented.