Californians Face Disenrollment Risk as Medi-Cal Eligibility Checks Resume
California Healthline senior correspondent Bernard J. Wolfson was interviewed May 30 on Radio Bilingüe’s “Línea Abierta” about annual eligibility checks by Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid health insurance program for low-income residents.
Annual verification of eligibility had been the norm before the pandemic, but it was suspended by all state Medicaid programs over the past three years. Its reinstitution is part of a massive “unwinding” expected to shrink Medicaid rolls by 8 to 24 million nationally and 2 to 3 million in California.
Wolfson explained that Californians could lose their Medi-Cal coverage because their income has risen or they have access to other health insurance. But another common reason is that people miss deadlines to update their address and personal information with — or can’t be reached by — the agencies that administer the program in their counties. He told listeners it was crucial for all Medi-Cal members to update their address, as well as information about their family, employment, and income.
Experts Warn Against Broad Hospital Bailout
California Healthline senior correspondent Samantha Young appeared June 1 on KQED to discuss why health care finance experts and former state officials are urging Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers to reject a broad bailout for the hospital industry.
A California Healthline analysis of state data revealed the industry last year generated roughly $131 billion in net patient revenue, a key indicator of financial health. That was $7.3 billion more than in the previous year. Experts and former state officials say that even though hospitals are still reeling from the covid-19 pandemic, many have deep financial reserves.
1 in 10 L.A. County Adults Carry Medical Debt
California Healthline contributing radio correspondent Stephanie O’Neill reported that a new analysis found 1 in 10 Los Angeles County adults collectively owe more than $2.6 billion in medical debt. Researchers with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health say the debt disproportionately affects people who are uninsured and underinsured, low-income residents, and Black and Latino people.
The report suggests expanding health coverage doesn’t necessarily protect people from falling into debt.
Democrats, Newsom at Odds Over Insurance Penalty Money
O’Neill explained why Democratic state lawmakers are at odds with Newsom over the fate of more than a billion dollars in fines levied on Californians who did not obtain health insurance.
Democrats are pressing the governor to make good on a promise to use fines to offset costs for health plans purchased through the state’s insurance marketplace. The governor, however, has proposed holding the money for the general fund as the state faces a $32 billion deficit.