Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a flurry of health-related bills at the end of last week including a bill to reverse the state’s position on accepting a grant to help with Medi-Cal enrollment renewals.
More than eight million Californians are up for renewal in the Medi-Cal program (California’s version of Medicaid). New eligibility rules and new forms have slowed the response rate so far. The California Endowment offered the Department of Health Care Services a $6 million grant to help with the renewal effort that would be doubled by matching federal funding. The state turned down the $12 million money during May budget negotiations.
State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) launched a bill — SB 18 — after the budget process ended requiring the state to accept the grant.
“Without this legislation, California would be leaving $12 million on the table that could be used to help families navigate the complex and challenging process of renewing their Medi-Cal coverage,” Leno said in a written statement.
He said one of the reasons the state decided to expand Medi-Cal coverage this year was because of the cost savings likely to occur as people shift out of getting care through emergency departments and get preventive care instead. By making sure Medi-Cal beneficiaries stay in coverage — and helping them get through the challenges of the new forms and requirements — the state likely will spend less on care in the long run, he said.
“We want to ensure that eligible Californians do not have a gap in coverage, which might force them to forego important medical care,” Leno said. “Keeping eligible California families enrolled in Medi-Cal saves us money in the long run.”
The governor signed more than a dozen health-related bills on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26, including:
- SB 964 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) the narrow networks bill, is designed to increase oversight over insurers, including annual reviews of Medi-Cal managed care plans to ensure timely access.
- AB 1559 by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) expands the state’s newborn screening program to include adrenoleukodystrophy, once that screening becomes federally recommended.
- AB 1962 by Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) requires medical loss ratio reports from dental health plans detailing the percentage of money spent on administration and the percentage spent on actual care.
- SB 912 by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) ends the repeal date of requirements that ensure vending machines on state property sell nutritionally acceptable food.
- SB 1004 by Sen. Hernandez requires the state to establish standards and help make sure Medi-Cal managed care plans offer palliative care services.
- AB 496 by Assembly member Richard Gordon (D-Los Altos) would make sure continuing medical education includes information about appropriate care for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations.