Court: Medi-Cal must cover podiatrists, dentists

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court has ruled that California lawmakers improperly stopped funding certain medical services that rural and other specialized health clinics provided to low-income residents under the state's Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in an opinion issued Friday that federal law requires states participating in Medicaid to reimburse clinics for a full range of medical services that includes chiropractic care, dental care for adults, optometry and podiatry.

To save money, the Legislature in 2009 eliminated coverage for those services, saying they were optional because they were not provided by MDs.

Although the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ultimately authorized the move, the 9th Circuit panel says only Congress can change the terms of Medicaid coverage.

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