Advocates Urge DHCS To Report More Data on Kids in Medi-Cal
Advocates are calling on the California Department of Health Care Services to report on more of the voluntary child health quality metrics that CMS uses to evaluate Medi-Cal and other states' Medicaid programs, HealthyCal reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
According to HealthyCal, CMS requires states to report on the quality of their Medicaid programs. However, CMS each year also lists several optional indicators for children's health.
California Reports on Fewer Metrics
In 2013, California reported on 15 of the 25 optional child health indicators listed by CMS, which was fewer than most other states, HealthyCal reports. CMS used that data to evaluate Medi-Cal and ranked it 14th out of all Medicaid programs in the country, outside the group of "higher-performing states."
This year, CMS has issued a list of 24 optional child health indicators.
In April, California reported on 13 of the 24 child health indicators.
The state plans to report on the same optional metrics when it files next year's data, according to DHCS spokesperson Carol Sloan.
According to HealthyCal, indicators that DHCS does not report on include how many beneficiaries:
- Are born at low birth weight;
- Receive developmental screenings within three years of their birth; and
- Receive suicide-risk assessments if they have major depressive disorders.
Advocates Urge DHCS To Include More Data
Noting that California has more children enrolled in Medicaid than any other state, advocates say California needs to do more to ensure the high quality of its program. There are about 5.3 million child Medi-Cal beneficiaries, representing about 58% of the state's population under 18.
Advocates argue DHCS should report on more of the optional quality indicators and use the data to identify shortcomings in children's health care in the state.
Mike Odeh, associate director of health policy at Children Now, said, "[T]he fact that [California is] not collecting as much data as [it] should shows that [it's] still in the dark about some things."
For example, Children Now has asked DHCS to include data on how many children with Medi-Cal coverage receive developmental screenings within three years of being born. Sloan said DHCS is considering the possibility of tracking such screenings in the future, but it does not plan to report such data next year.
Meanwhile, Cary Sanders, director of policy analysis at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, said reporting on more data also could help the state reduce "racial and ethnic disparities."
She said, "You can incorporate certain measures that will improve quality of care, but then it becomes a question of the quality of care for whom?"
According to HealthyCal, DHCS plans to host a meeting among stakeholders to decide which metrics to include in its 2017 report (Guzik, HealthyCal, 8/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.