Riverside County Seeks Ways To Adjust Medi-Cal Enrollment Procedures
Health officials in Riverside County are working to improve the county's application process for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
Federal rules require Medi-Cal applications to be processed within 45 days, but Riverside County has failed to meet that deadline every year since 2004. The county has seen a 30% increase in Medi-Cal beneficiaries since 2004, the highest in California (Gonzales/Hines , Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/1).
The Department of Health Care Services requires counties to submit audits on Medi-Cal applications every two years. The department also requires quarterly assessments from counties that are falling short of the processing timeline.
Counties can decide when toÂ conduct their reports. They also can opt to supply projected data for the coming year instead of actual measurements.
Susan Loew -- director of Riverside County's Department of Public Social Services -- said the department is planning to resend data from recent audits. She added that the standards may be met in one year.
Kimberly Lewis of the Western Center on Law and Poverty said the monitoring program is not useful because it lets counties report using different methodologies (Gonzales/Hines , Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/1).
Addressing the Issue
Riverside County has set up an application website and a new call center designed to decrease wait times for Medi-Cal applications, but applicants still must meet in person to provide appropriate documentation.
In 2007, the county applied for the Coverage Initiative Program, which was designed to streamline enrollment processes by setting up qualification and enrollment standards that are consistent with the health reform law. DHCS rejected the county's application.
The state is seeking to implementÂ the Coverage Initiative Program in every county by 2014, when an estimated 108,100 new individuals will qualify for Medi-Cal coverage under the health reform law.
However, Riverside County budget deficits have forced cuts to health care services, and there is not expected to be surplus funding that could be used for the program, according to Supervisor Bob Buster (Gonzales/Hines , Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/1).
The California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting contributed to this report. CHCF publishes California Healthline.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.