California’s Medi-Cal program for poor grows to 12 million

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California expanded its Medicaid program for the poor under the federal health care overhaul and now covers 12 million people – nearly one in every three residents.

That’s a surprisingly high number that has left the state struggling to make sure there are enough doctors to care for all of them.

Medi-Cal is a $95 billion joint federal-state program, making California the largest health care purchaser in the state.

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.

Even though the federal government has injected billions into California, doctors and hospitals say the state continues to pay much less than private insurance or Medicare for medical services.

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