Advocates Question Increase in Medi-Cal Eligibility Checks
Health care advocacy groups worry that a plan by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to require Medi-Cal beneficiaries to verify their eligibility for the program more often will result in eligible state residents losing coverage, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
Under current rules for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, adult beneficiaries must update their eligibility forms twice per year, and children's eligibility must be verified once annually. The governor's proposal would require updated information for all Medi-Cal beneficiaries to be submitted four times annually.
Medi-Cal beneficiaries who fail to submit the updates will be given one warning before they are dropped from the program.
The update proposal would give California one of the strictest reporting requirements nationwide, according to the Bee.
California officials estimate that the plan could save $70 million next year.
Kirk Feely -- a health analyst with the Legislative Analyst's office, the state's non-partisan fiscal and policy adviser -- said quarterly status reports are the best option to help address the state's budget deficit.
He explained, "It's not something that absent the fiscal crisis we'd be pushing for, but it's preferable to actually reducing eligibility by doing things like lowering the income levels that are eligible for the program."
Anthony Wright -- executive director of Health Access California, a not-for-profit advocacy group -- said, "The intent of that proposal is that a percentage of those families on Medi-Cal will for some reason not fill out the paperwork and fall off the coverage, though they remain eligible."
The California Budget project, a non-partisan policy analysis group, said 470,000 eligible children could lose coverage because of language or other issues tied to the increases in paperwork.
Ellen Wu -- president of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, a not-for-profit advocacy group -- said the updates could create difficulties for the 3.5 million Hispanic Medi-Cal beneficiaries and other ethnic groups that might face language barriers (Mohajer, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/1).