Californians With Disabilities Often Face Barriers to Health Care
Californians with disabilities are high utilizers of the health care system, but they often face barriers to care, HealthyCal reports.
According to HealthyCal, there are about 4.5 million adults and children in California with disabilities.
However, about one-third of such children receive inadequate care, compared with one quarter of kids without disabilities, according to a Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health's database. Meanwhile, a 2004 study found that adults with disabilities are less likely than adults without disabilities to see a physician and more likely to report being in poor or fair health.
Barriers to Care
According to some advocates, recent policy changes have exacerbated barriers to care for individuals with disabilities.
For example, California has moved millions of adults with disabilities into Medi-Cal managed care plans, which have low reimbursement rates and fewer providers. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In addition, the California Children's Services program -- which provides pediatric inpatient and outpatient care to those with serious chronic and acute conditions -- is set to end this year, and lawmakers are unsure about how or whether to extend it.
Meanwhile, Californians with disabilities also can face barriers to care depending on where they live. For example:
- Individuals who live in rural areas of the state often have to travel far distances to see a physician or specialist; and
- Some providers in urban areas have large caseloads that can cause long wait times for appointments.
Further, some state-run service center employees may not be adequately prepared to help individuals with disabilities navigate the network of state and federal insurer networks, HealthyCal reports.
Pip Marks, manager of Family Voices of California, said, "There is a tremendous burden and pressure on families because the weight of care coordination for their children's health care falls heavily on them."
Anthony Cava, a spokesperson for the California Department of Health Care Services, said, "DHCS is in the planning stages of an effort to improve access to health care for children and youth with special health care needs through changes to the CCS program and to improve service delivery within the current health care system."
Cava noted that the redesign of the CCS program will seek to improve outcomes by:
- Bolstering care coordination; and
- Continuously measuring the quality of care offered under the program.
He added that Medi-Cal managed care plans must provide all "medically necessary covered services" and coordinate with the CCS program.
Meanwhile, Cava said DHCS also could "step in to assist counties or families if issues of program eligibility or access to car arise" (Portner, HealthyCal, 7/20).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.