MCPI: Releases Recommendations For Improving Medi-Cal/Healthy Families Enrollment
In order to enroll more eligible children, the eligibility rules for Healthy Families and Medi-Cal should be changed to bring the programs into closer alignment, according to a report released today by the California HealthCare Foundation's Medi-Cal Policy Institute (MCPI). The report, written for the foundation by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, also suggests creating a single name for the two programs. Another option that would facilitate greater enrollment, according to the report, would be streamlining the application by eliminating all requests for information that are not required by federal law. Further, the MCPI recommends creating a single point of entry for applicants so that the state, not the applicant, determines whether they are eligible for either of the two programs. "California has an excellent opportunity to remove some of the barriers surrounding the application process," said CHCF President Mark Smith. "These options, if implemented, could help provide health coverage to thousands of children who are currently eligible but not yet enrolled in these programs." Crystal Hayling, director of MCPI, said, "There has been a great deal of discussion about the low enrollment numbers in the new Healthy Families program. Much of the blame has been placed on the lengthy application. But we believe that other changes need to take place in order to shorten the form and improve the entire application process."
Computers Make It Easier
In addition, CHCF and MCPI are requesting the development of automated enrollment software for the application process. The software would be similar to automated income tax preparation programs and could be used by application-assistance organizations, such as county eligibility workers, providers, community-based nonprofits, Head Start programs and school districts. "An automated application will not by itself correct problems with the current application process," said Sam Karp, chief information officer of CHCF. "However, by utilizing state- of-the-art information technologies and streamlined business processes, we believe automated enrollment can provide applicants with speedier access to eligibility determination, while offering increased efficiencies, lower cost and reduced error rates in both programs" (CHCF release, 10/21). For additional information visit CHCF's website at www.chcf.org or MCPI's at www.medi-cal.org.