Davis Proposes Expansion of Online Enrollment Program for Healthy Families, Medi-Cal
At press conference in San Francisco yesterday, Gov. Gray Davis (D) announced that a new online enrollment program for Healthy Families and Medi-Cal will be implemented statewide in August if the state Legislature approves funding, the Contra Costa Times reports (Chang, Contra Costa Times, 6/13). Davis' 2001-02 budget proposal includes $1.3 million to launch the program, called Health-e-App, statewide over the next year (Office of the Governor release, 6/12). Although the Legislature has yet to approve the budget, Davis said that the San Diego County pilot of Health-e-App has produced favorable results by simplifying and speeding up the enrollment process. Davis said, "This is the nation's first fully automated Healthy Families application. It's faster, more efficient and more accurate than the paper version. And it provides immediate results" (Reuters, 6/12). Health-e-App, which was developed by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Medi-Cal Policy Institute in cooperation with the California Department of Health Services and the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, allows low-income children and their families to enroll in either Healthy Families or Medi-Cal online. With the help of certified application assistants, applicants submit their information electronically, select a health care plan and provider and receive preliminary eligibility notification online (Health-e-App fact sheet, 6/12).
Launched as a pilot program in San Diego County in January, Health-e-App was used to submit 246 applications for 494 individuals. According to a Lewin Group analysis of the pilot, Health-e-App reduced the number of application errors by nearly 40%. In addition, 93% of Health-e-App applicants surveyed said they "liked" an online application process, and 90% preferred completing the online application rather than the paper forms because the electronic application was "'quick and easy,' more convenient and involved less paperwork" (Lewin Group release, 6/12). The analysis also found that Health-e-App reduced the time between application and eligibility determination to 13.5 days, compared to 18 days with paper applications. Lewin analysts suggested that with further "fine-tuning," the time to eligibility determination could be reduced to eight days. In addition, the analysis found that Health-e-App reduced the total time for the Medi-Cal application from 45 days to 35 and could reduce it to as few as 32 days (Reuters, 6/12). Application assistants also liked Health-e-App, stating that it "minimized paperwork" and immediately notified them of application errors (Lewin Group release, 6/12). Crystal Hayling, director of the Medi-Cal Policy Institute, said, "The most important thing we learned about Health-e-App through the pilot is that it works. ... We've also learned that families really like it" (Health-e-App release, 6/12). In addition to the Health-e-App expansion funding, Davis' proposed budget also calls for $158 million to expand Healthy Families eligibility to include parents of eligible children. Before allowing parents into Healthy Families, however, the state must receive approval through a federal waiver -- which is currently pending and expected to pass (Chang, Contra Costa Times, 6/13).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.