Belshe Announces Working Groups To Address Medi-Cal Redesign Proposal
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kim Belshe on Thursday announced the creation of five working groups to "inform California's Medi-Cal redesign proposal" and to provide state officials with "input, ideas and suggestions" from legislators, beneficiaries, local government officials, providers, health plans and "others directly affected by the redesign of this critical program," according to a letter posted on a newly created Medi-Cal redesign Web site (Belshe letter, 3/4). Department of Health Services in January announced the launch of a yearlong effort to reform Medi-Cal, which covers about 6.8 million California residents. The effort is part of the fiscal year 2004-2005 budget that Schwarzenegger proposed earlier this year, under which Medi-Cal would offer different coverage plans, charge higher premiums to beneficiaries with higher incomes and eliminate optional benefits not required by the federal government. State officials said that they hope to submit to the Legislature a request for Medi-Cal reform that they would later forward to the federal government for approval. If approved, the state would begin to implement the reforms by 2005 (California Healthline, 2/23). In the letter, Belshe said that the working groups would study benefit design and cost sharing; program eligibility and simplification; organized service delivery, including managed care; aging and disability issues; and other Medicaid financing and savings measures, including "options to ensure fair federal funding participation and options to increase program effectiveness." Bobbie Wunsch of Pacific Health Consulting Group will facilitate the working groups, which are funded in part by the California Endowment and the California HealthCare Foundation. A conference call to discuss the workgroup process will be held Thursday at 4 p.m. Additional details will be available online (Belshe letter, 3/4).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.