IHA: Proposes Medi-Cal, Healthy Families Reform
The Integrated Healthcare Association (IHA) has issued the following proposals to simplify and expand the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs:
- Creating simplified, seamless state- and county-level programs for low-income residents
- Maximizing the use of all federal funds to expand the programs
- Using money from the tobacco settlement to match or supplement federal funding
- Destigmatizing Medi-Cal by uncoupling it from the welfare intake system
- Ensuring that INS and "public charge" issues are not barriers to immigrant enrollment
- Supporting innovative local experimentation to increase access for those not eligible for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families.
IHA also called for the changes in the Medi-Cal program, including continuous eligibility and coverage, presumptive eligibility for uninsured children, and full year lock-in enrollment for Medi-Cal managed care. It also recommended time-limited transitional coverage for those leaving welfare and increasing the income thresholds for working families. Recommended changes for the Healthy Families program include continued simplification of the application and eligibility process, expansion of the program to include working parents and coverage for immigrant children. Dave Kears, IHA Board Chair and director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, said, "There is a significant window of opportunity -- and strong political support -- right now to simplify and expand the system of health insurance coverage for low-income children, adults and families. [W]e can harness the significant energy that is present among public and private sector entities throughout the state and achieve dramatic improvements in health insurance coverage and enrollment." IHA Executive Director Beau Carter said, "We urge the governor to make simplification and expansion of these programs along the lines we suggest a top health care priority for the administration over the next year" (IHA release, 8/2).