Health & Medicine

UC Davis inks deal with Health Net to continue serving Sacramento’s Medi-Cal enrollees

UC Davis second-year medical student Alisha Othieno, left, examines patient Maricella Moran at the Imani Clinic, run by UC Davis Health, in Sacramento in 2017.
UC Davis second-year medical student Alisha Othieno, left, examines patient Maricella Moran at the Imani Clinic, run by UC Davis Health, in Sacramento in 2017. Bee file

UC Davis Health announced Thursday that it had signed a deal with Health Net Community Solutions to immediately start serving Sacramento County Medi-Cal patients receiving primary care at the teaching hospital.

UnitedHealthcare had covered UCD’s Medi-Cal enrollees last year, but the health care giant announced in July that it would discontinue the coverage starting Oct. 31.

“We have been working with Health Net for several months to reach this agreement, and we applaud Health Net for offering its comprehensive coverage for Medi-Cal recipients,” said David A. Lubarsky, vice chancellor of Human Health Sciences and CEO of UC Davis Health. “The data shows our efforts to serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries are unmatched by any other hospital or health system in the area, and this contract allows us now to fully manage the health of a larger primary care patient population.”

As many as 5,000 Medi-Cal enrollees are expected to be covered through the UC Davis-Health Net agreement. The UnitedHealthcare pullout was expected to force roughly 1,000 UCD patients to find new primary care doctors, something that is a challenge for Medi-Cal recipients. Reimbursements from the state-run health care program do not cover the cost of care, so many doctors do not accept it or severely limit the number of Medi-Cal patients in their population.

“Health Net’s new relationship with UC Davis Health further cements our longstanding commitment to serving the people of the greater Sacramento region,” said Steven Sell, president of Health Net of California. “We’re pleased to bring expanded access to our Medi-Cal members to help ensure they receive comprehensive, quality healthcare.”

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The two companies had done business before, but that relationship ended in January 2015, and it was two years before UCD signed a new contract with UnitedHealthcare and returned to serving the county’s neediest residents.

Leaders of UCD Health said that more than one in four of the institution’s patients are in the Medi-Cal program, California’s version of the Medicaid federal public health insurance program for low-income children and adults. In fiscal 2017-18, UCD treated 42,246 Medi-Cal beneficiaries (25,702 adults and 16,544 children), with a total of 79,946 Medi-Cal patient discharges, according to a news release, and those numbers have been largely unchanged since 2014.

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