Politics & Government

California can't stop some Medicaid services without U.S. approval, judge rules

A Sacramento federal judge has ordered the state to keep providing adult dental, podiatric and chiropractic services to poor people in underserved rural areas until it gets permission from federal heath authorities to discontinue the benefits.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. ruled Wednesday that, while the services are not mandatory under the federal Medicaid program (Medi-Cal in California), the Legislature's decision to end them last year as a cost-saving measure was unlawful without federal approval.

Damrell issued an injunction barring further implementation of the change in the Medi-Cal plan until the state gets federal approval.

Anthony Cava, spokesman for the state Department of Health Care Services, said Thursday the department, which oversees the Medi-Cal program for people below the poverty line, will abide by the judge's order.

He said the department will resume reimbursements to qualified health care centers and rural health clinics for the services.

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