California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

New Medi-Cal Renewal Forms Are Confusing, Advocates Say

Advocates for low-income individuals say that a new form used to determine eligibility for Medi-Cal beneficiaries who are renewing their coverage is complicated and could be more difficult to fill out than previous renewal forms, HealthyCal reports.

Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

For more coverage of the new Medi-Cal renewal forms, see our "Capitol Desk" post.

Details of Renewal Forms

Under changes required by the Affordable Care Act, the new form includes questions about income and tax deductions.

Last month, counties began sending out the first round of eligibility renewal forms, which will be due back at the end of June.

However, Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) recently released revised fiscal year 2014-2015 budget proposal indicates that the forms will not be processed until July, as the state works to process a backlog of new Medi-Cal enrollment applications, according to HealthyCal.

California Department of Health Care Services spokesperson Anthony Cava said the state has earmarked money to maintain Medi-Cal coverage for beneficiaries who have experienced a delayed renewal process.

Criticism of New Forms

Advocates for low-income individuals say the new forms require more effort from some beneficiaries and some of the new required information could confuse such individuals.

Advocates note that the renewal process now includes two forms in most of the state, whereas it contained just one form before ACA implementation.

In addition, Cori Racela, an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services in Los Angeles County, said that the tax information required could be especially difficult and confusing for beneficiaries who do not file taxes or who have multiple jobs.

The new forms also are available only in English and Spanish, despite requirements that they be available in other languages, Racela added.

Response to Criticism

Marcia Gardner, deputy director of Santa Barbara County's Department of Social Services, said the changes to the renewal forms will make the redetermination process easier.

She noted that beneficiaries previously had to provide copies of pay stubs or other documents to prove the information they provided was correct. Under the new process, the state is able to verify beneficiaries' information electronically and automatically renew their eligibility annually. Beneficiaries also can renew over the phone.

Cava added that the state will contact beneficiaries who do not complete the forms on time before they lose their coverage (Boyd-Barrett, HealthyCal, 5/16).

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