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Civil rights suit alleges discrimination in Medi-Cal
San Francisco Chronicle

Two civil rights groups and one of the state’s largest labor unions representing hospital workers have sued the state of California, alleging the state-administered Medi-Cal health insurance program for the poor discriminates against Latinos.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court, argues that the program’s low payment rates to doctors and clinicians disproportionately harm Latinos, who make up a large percentage of the program’s beneficiaries.

The action was brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center and the labor union SEIU-UHW. The organizations filed suit on behalf of four Medi-Cal beneficiaries who say they had to wait months or years to receive health care after many doctors’ offices told them they did not accept Medi-Cal patients because the program reimburses providers at a much lower rate than Medicare, which covers the elderly, or private insurers.