The Legislature's summer recess has begun, but lawmakers will face a slew of health-related bills when they return in August, including measures that seek federal waivers to expand Medi-Cal enrollment.
SB 1448 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl was sent to the governor just before the recess. The bill would require the Department of Health Services to identify at least five Medi-Cal programs that are most effective in extending health insurance coverage to the uninsured and allocate federal funds to the programs. Allocations would be made for three years and programs would be required to provide local funds to participate. According to an Assembly bill analysis, the waiver is intended to help stabilize California's safety net system in a way that will encourage innovation and improve the quality of care.
A bill (AB 3000) by Assembly member Dario Frommer would request a federal waiver to expand health insurance coverage to low-income residents who are ineligible for other government-sponsored health insurance programs. Under the legislation, a not-for-profit foundation or other organization would evaluate programs funded by the demonstration project waiver. The bill also would require DHS to monitor the programs and reallocate funds if necessary.
However, even as legislators work to expand Medi-Cal enrollment, a federal law that took effect July 1 will limit the program to people who can provide proof of U.S. citizenship. The law seeks to prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving benefits, but critics say several million citizens also might be affected because they will be unable to produce the required documentation.
Last month advocacy groups and beneficiaries filed class-action lawsuits seeking to bar implementation of the law, which they allege is unconstitutional. California officials have said they will delay implementation until August and later this month will begin instructing local governments on compliance.