Raising Medi-Cal Eligibility for People With Disabilities is ‘Fiscally Smart,’ Times Says
A bill (AB 925) that would allow "severely disabled adults" earning up to $75,000 annually to be eligible for Medi-Cal is "fiscally smart" and should be a "clear cut, fast-track priority" for state legislators, a Los Angeles Times editorial states. Under current Medi-Cal law, disabled beneficiaries must have less than $2,000 in assets and $650 in monthly income to remain in the program. The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley), would raise the assets limit to $80,000 and eliminate the marriage penalty to prevent a spouse's assets from "spoil[ing] eligibility." While the bill has passed the state Assembly and could pass the state Senate next month, the Times notes that some Republican legislators are arguing that the bill is unnecessary because not-for-profit groups already help people with disabilities find employment that offers "adequate" insurance. "That's a lame argument," the editorial says, noting that not-for-profit organizations assisting the disabled only reach a "few thousand" people. Instead, lawmakers "should realize" that while the bill "technically expands" Medi-Cal, it would save the state money by encouraging the disabled to leave welfare disability, known as SSI. Also, the bill is designed to "supplement, not replace," private coverage by limiting Medi-Cal as the "payer of last resort." The editorial concludes, "Legislators should not allow the state to continue the outrage of requiring the severely disabled to stay impoverished to keep the health care they need to stay alive" (Los Angeles Times, 7/26).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.