MEDI-CAL: Consumer Advocates Warn of Welfare Reforms’ Harm
A coalition of children's advocates, health plans and health consumer groups converged on the state Capitol yesterday, warning that as many as 350,000 Californians who have been transitioned from welfare cash assistance but who still qualify for Medi-Cal will unnecessarily lose their health insurance by the end of the month as part of the state's welfare-to-work reform efforts. Under CalWORKS, there are no provisions to ensure continued health coverage for families moving from cash assistance to work, and as a result, many families will be put in a "hold" category, according to the California Primary Care Association, which represents community-based clinics (CPCA release, 4/26). In order to renew their Medi-Cal coverage, former welfare beneficiaries must complete a daunting "redetermination packet." Counties must make final determinations on which former recipients are still eligible for Medi-Cal coverage by April 30. The state "softened" that deadline earlier this month, but advocates nonetheless remain concerned that "counties will rush to comply with the redetermination process and eligible beneficiaries will fall through the cracks," the Sacramento Bee reports. As the deadline looms, the CPCA is urging counties to put federal funds to work in outreach efforts and is calling on them to streamline the application process (Griffith, 4/27). "It doesn't make sense that the state and federal governments are spending millions of dollars a year on outreach for children's Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs, while at the same time allowing hundreds of thousands of children to lose their health insurance coverage," said Deena Lahn of The Children's Defense Fund (CPCA release, 4/26). For its part, the state Department of Health Services assures that counties have been given extra time to round up as many eligible beneficiaries as possible. "We want to make sure every Medi-Cal beneficiary who is eligible to remain enrolled in Medi-Cal does so," DHS spokesperson Ken August said (Bee, 4/27).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.