SAN DIEGO COUNTY: Eligible Residents Lose Medi-Cal Coverage
Thousands of San Diego County women and children who have recently gotten off welfare have unnecessarily fallen from Medi-Cal rolls, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. County officials estimate that between June 1999 and February of this year, 1,750 Medi-Cal-eligible people per month lost their benefits. Part of the problem, according to officials, is welfare reform. Previously, Medi-Cal and welfare were linked, so people lost their benefits once they went off welfare. Now, Medi-Cal eligibility has been extended for at least two years after people leave welfare. But officials say that most people do not realize they still qualify for the program, as county officials have failed to make them aware of the changes. Dr. Robert Ross, director of the county's Health and Human Services Agency, said, "We have failed to assure that those people leaving welfare understand that they're fully eligible for Medi-Cal." Still, some say that there are other reasons for the decline in Medi-Cal enrollment. Many point to the complicated application process that requires an 11-page form. Others say that, once off welfare, many people no longer want to depend on any form of public assistance. And some former welfare recipients feel healthy and do not see the need for coverage. Because the problem is not limited to San Diego, state officials are taking steps to correct the situation -- spending $920,000 on outreach programs that encourage former welfare recipients to stay enrolled in Medi-Cal. For their part, county officials indicate that they are working with consumer advocates, health plans and hospitals to keep those eligible enrolled (Rother, 4/19).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.