By Brian McCurdy, Senior Editor
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a California state law that denied Medi-Cal beneficiaries podiatric care at designated rural health clinics and federally-qualified health centers. The California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) cautions that the ruling has a limited scope and DPMs are still excluded from standard Medi-Cal fee-for-service.
Due to this ruling, Lee C. Rogers, DPM, notes that patients in affected rural clinics can now expect to see a specialist for their foot care needs. He explains that Medi-Cal does not exclude foot care but only prohibits foot care from being provided by a podiatrist. Dr. Rogers says the CPMA Board and legal team are still evaluating the impact of the decision.
As CPMA President Carolyn McAloon, DPM, explains, the court decision is due to the fact that the federal laws mandating rural clinics are distinct from the general Medicaid laws. She notes rural clinic laws specifically incorporate the Medicare definition of “physician” but the definition of physician for general Medicaid coverage does not currently include podiatrists.
“This decision only affects a minority of California podiatrists,” says Dr. Rogers, the Co-Director of the Amputation Prevention Center at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles.
“The fight continues to ensure that all Californians can see a specialist when they have a foot or ankle problem, some as serious as limb-threatening.”