Office of Administrative Law Will Not Rule on Proposed Emergency Medi-Cal Regulations
The Office of Administrative Law on Wednesday said that it did not have the legal authority to prevent the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) from implementing rules that would allow the state to begin collecting a larger portion of the assets left by elderly Medi-Cal beneficiaries after they die, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 3/22).
The Department of Health Services last week filed emergency regulations that would allow the state to increase its efforts to recoup the cost of nursing home services from families of deceased Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
Through the emergency proposal, the Schwarzenegger administration would expand the types of property collected by the state. In addition, the proposal would charge families 7% interest on the amount they owe to the state if they are unable to pay the entire bill at one time.
OAL had until last Friday to approve or reject the proposed emergency regulations (California Healthline, 3/22). However, OAL officials on Wednesday "attempted to step out of the middle of the controversy" in their decision, according to the Bee.
These "regulations are exempt for review by the Office of Administrative Law," OAL Director Bill Gausewitz said in a statement posted on the agency's Web site. He added that OAL "cannot reject the regulation for lack of emergency even if we do not believe that the facts demonstrate an actual need for its immediate adoption."
The state must gather public comment to enact permanent regulations, but it can file for an extension in the interim. The emergency regulations would take effect immediately and are valid for 120 days (Sacramento Bee, 3/22).
KQED's "The California Report" on Wednesday reported on the Medi-Cal rule change. The segment includes comments from Ken August, spokesperson for DHS; Gausewitz; and Pat McGinnis, director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (Musiker, "The California Report," KQED, 3/23). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.