State officials are in the midst of dropping a large number of Medi-Cal beneficiaries. It’s the Medi-Cal renewal process — every year, beneficiaries are required to re-enroll to continue receiving the benefit.
This year, that process potentially could result in millions of beneficiaries exiting the program.
Last week the Department of Health Care Services said about one million Medi-Cal beneficiaries a month will need to renew their Medi-Cal eligibility this year.
All individuals enrolled in Medi-Cal have 12 months of eligibility. Renewals are conducted based on the original month an individual’s Medi-Cal eligibility began.
“While DHCS is currently working with the counties on gathering specific Medi-Cal renewal data, we assume that approximately one million renewals are due per month on a statewide basis, given our current enrollment numbers,” said Norman Williams, director of communications at DHCS, in an email.
State officials declined to release data about how many Medi-Cal beneficiaries have been terminated. DHCS officials said that data — the total numbers or percentage of renewals month by month for the past six months — is “not available.”
If one million people, generally, are up for renewal every month, that puts the overall renewal pool at roughly 12 million people per year.
In the past, some county workers have estimated a usual return rate of about 80% renewals — meaning 20% are dropped every year.
Assuming the state hits that 80% renewal rate mark (a large assumption, for a variety of reasons), the state could be dropping 200,000 beneficiaries a month, which comes to 2.4 million people for the year.
There are many reasons to think that even more than 2.4 million people will be dropped from Medi-Cal this year.
New federal requirements and new state forms for Medi-Cal renewal likely could tamp that renewal rate down. County workers who normally call those who have not filed for renewal or those who have filled out forms incompletely have been busy trying to eliminate the backlog of unfinished Medi-Cal applications.
Also, Medi-Cal officials extended the date for termination last year, so there are many more people who need to renew this year. And the actual numbers of Medi-Cal enrollees has climbed significantly because of Medi-Cal expansion.