MEDI-CAL/HEALTHY FAMILIES: Barriers to Enrollment Still Exist
The 100% Campaign, a coalition of the groups Children Now, the Children's Defense Fund and the Children's Partnership, has issued Community Voices, a report detailing the struggles of enrolling children in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. The report, released Wednesday, is the product of the Children's Health Insurance Feedback Loop, which consists of 17 statewide community organizations. From April to July 1999, the "Loop" assisted 6,800 families with the joint Medi-Cal and Healthy Families application by employing outreach strategies including: paycheck stuffers, personal visits to agricultural workers in the fields and to those in trailer camps and identifying uninsured children through the School Lunch and Head Start programs. Although families "want and need these insurance programs," to get them "they are forced to maneuver through a labyrinth of hurdles and obstacles," stated Gloria Garcia of the Children's Clinic in Long Beach. "Bureaucratic red tape" such as "families being improperly required by county welfare offices to complete the Medi-Cal application process in person or provide unnecessary documentation" and children being denied eligibility in Health Families because of "inaccurate Medi-Cal enrollment records" proved to be obstacles to coverage. The report also noted that language or literacy barriers contribute to difficulty understanding the enrollment documents. Immigrant populations were particularly concerned about "being considered a public charge for having children enrolled in either Medi-Cal or Healthy Families," but "federal guidelines were recently issued clarifying that use of Medi-Cal or Healthy Families will not affect a family's immigration status." The report suggests that public education campaigns should work to dispel that myth. Further, the report suggests boosting funding for organizations to perform effective outreach. Manuel Trujillo of the Community Outreach Group in Fresno, added, "We didn't get this far to just let families fall through the administrative and bureaucratic cracks of the system. Through the 100% Campaign and its Feedback Loop report, organizations like ours have had the opportunity to voice our concerns to policymakers and to offer solutions that work for our communities" (100% Campaign release, 10/20).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.