MEDI-CAL: Thousands Risk Losing Coverage
Nearly 400,000 low-income residents risk losing Medi-Cal coverage "if the state sticks to a deadline for determining if people coming off welfare are still eligible for Medi-Cal," the Contra Costa Times reports. And counties that run their own health care plans, such as Alameda and Contra Costa, falling enrollment means losing millions in Medi-Cal funds. According to a report due at Contra Costa supervisors' discussion today, the county could lose as much as $11 million if all those eligible for Medi-Cal are dropped from the rolls as they come off welfare. State DHS spokesperson Lea Brooks said, however, that the department will be lenient towards counties that do not meet the April 1 deadline for determining eligibility. "We understand their concerns and we're just asking them to do the best they can," she said. Since CalWORKS went into effect last January, counties have been scrambling to determine whether people who came off the welfare rolls are still eligible for Medi-Cal. Brooks noted that the state has given counties $40 million to determine eligibility and an additional $17.9 million to contact former welfare recipients. But after residents leave welfare, the must reapply to Medi-Cal to see if they are eligible -- a task that county officials say can be daunting and complex.
The Search Is On
In Contra Costa County, 2,500 former welfare households were urged to reapply for Medi-Cal, but 1,300 households never returned the paperwork. The Times reports that officials have cut Medi-Cal for about half of those and is trying to contact the rest. In Alameda County, 10,000 packets were sent out and about 4,000 returned. Officials decided not to cut off Medi-Cal coverage for the remaining 6,000 because the state had not yet finalized reapplication rules and is attempting to contact those in limbo through mailings, newspaper articles and phone calls (Hill, 3/2).