SACRAMENTO, CA - Patients who are being moved into Medi-Cal managed care plans as part of a major statewide policy shift are facing life-threatening obstacles to getting needed care, according to patient advocates who testified in a legislative oversight hearing.

An attorney, doctor and lobbyist pleaded with lawmakers on Wednesday to slow the pace of a program overhaul that they say has knocked patients off organ transplant waiting lists or upended care that kept chronic diseases under control.

The changes are part of a wide-ranging plan that is meant to improve care and cut costs in the state's Medi-Cal program, California's version of Medicaid. In June, the first wave of Medi-Cal patients moved to managed care plans.

The effort is planned to extend to about 1.2 million seniors who are covered by both Medicare and Medi-Cal and projected to save the state a billion dollars within five years.

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