Challenge to Medi-Cal Policies for Juvenile Hall Inmates Moves Forward
On Monday, a San Francisco Superior Court judge rejected the state's request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging policies on Medi-Cal coverage for youths in juvenile hall, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
San Francisco and Santa Clara counties brought the suit, arguing that the state goes too far in forcing juveniles to reapply for Medi-Cal when they are released, rather than automatically restoring their benefits.
Danny Chou, deputy city attorney for San Francisco, said that the state rule results in many youths released from juvenile hall experiencing long delays in Medi-Cal coverage, which can lead to a lack of treatment or force them to seek care in county hospitals.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed legislation in 2007 that would have restored Medi-Cal coverage for individuals in juvenile hall after their release.
The suit also charges that Medi-Cal should cover psychiatric hospital services for incarcerated youths.
In his denial of the state's request for dismissal, Judge Peter Busch stated that the law that makes youths ineligible for Medi-Cal coverage in juvenile hall contains an exception for psychiatric hospital services.
Deputy Attorney General Benjamin Riley said the state believes federal funding is unavailable for mental health care for juvenile hall inmates (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/27).