Sacramento County this week settled with UC Davis Health, agreeing to pay $98 million for services to indigent and jail inmates between July 2008 and December 2015.
The payments are to be made over 15 years and include interest, according to a Sacramento County website.
The county avoided paying UC Davis be creating ‘unrealistic guidelines’ for indigent healthcare, according to a report from 2009, when the lawsuit was filed, on the UC Davis website.
A California Welfare and Institutions Code mandating that counties be providers of last resort for indigent patients and a state law prohibiting counties from using budget shortfalls or financial hardship to justify limiting access to indigent medical services support UC Davis’ case.
The lawsuit complained that the county was denying patients emergency services based on circumstances out of their control, noting that state laws and emergency medical services policies require patients to be taken to the nearest emergency medical facility, which in Sacramento is often UC Davis.
In 2008, the county had terminated a longstanding contract with UCD for indigent patients, choosing to access UCD services at a negotiated rate through a third party administrator, although UCD warned county this wouldn'’t save them money. In 2009, the county decided to stop paying UC Davis Health for services to indigent patients even though UC Davis provided about 60 percent of hospital charity care in the county, according to the 2009 report.
Monday’s settlement included an exchange of pleasantries from the parties.
“We thank the County of Sacramento for working with us to reach an agreement and remain committed to working collaboratively with the county to care for patients in this region,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary May in a statement.
For its part, the county expressed gratitude to UC Davis “for caring for County indigent and jail inmates throughout what was a financially difficult time for the County,” it said in a press release.