Medi-Cal Underfunding Hurts: Graciela & Christian

Medi-Cal Underfunding Hurts: Graciela & Christian

Imagine having to rely on home remedies to treat your child’s ear infection because he can’t see a doctor. That’s what happened to Christian Ocequenda, a 5-year-old autistic boy from Hayward who is covered by Medi-Cal.

Christian takes medication to help his autism, and needs regular visits with a specialist. But a year ago, Christian’s health center stopped calling to schedule appointments. His mother, Graciela, called them over and over but couldn’t get him an appointment.

Finally, the health center told her that they couldn’t afford to keep a specialist for autistic children on staff. So when Christian got a painful ear infection, Graciela had to rely on home remedies instead of medical care.

Six months later, Christian was finally able to see a specialist, but they wouldn’t let his mother schedule regular follow-up appointments.

Because of the low reimbursement rates, many specialists can’t afford to treat new Medi-Cal patients. That means longer wait times and complications for patients like Christian, who need a specialist’s care.