Duals Project Sign-Ups Hit Halfway Mark

BREAKING NEWS: Advocates have dropped their effort to seek a preliminary injunction in federal court to halt the duals demonstration project, in part citing “procedural difficulties.”

The state has sent enrollment notices to almost half the 456,000 people eligible for California’s duals demonstration project. So far, about 36% have opted to be excluded, according to state officials.

Extrapolating on those numbers, if the rest of the eligible recipients of Medi-Cal and Medicare opt out at a 36% rate, it would mean roughly 300,000 Californians would be enrolled in new Medi-Cal/Medicare managed care plans.Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

That is not an official state number or estimate. Officials from the Department of Health Care Services, which is overseeing the Cal MediConnect duals demonstration project, could not speculate on how many people might enroll.

For one thing, officials said, it’s still early in the process. The state has delivered 195,000 notices, a little less than half of the 456,000 that will be sent, according to Anthony Cava, public information officer at DHCS.

The most important thing to the department is making options as clear as possible, according to John Shen, division chief of long-term care services at DHCS.

“A lot of the issues we are dealing with right now are enrollment issues,” Shen said Wednesday at the annual SCAN Foundation long-term care conference in Sacramento.

“We have continued to try to do our best to message every one clearly, we are continuing to do our best to work with Health Care Options on messaging, all of these things we’re trying to make work in the best possible way,” Shen said. “We are making sure people are informed and go to the plan of their choice.”

According to Cava, the notices will continue to go out at different schedules for different counties.

The notices go out over a 12-month period, sent out during beneficiaries’ birth months. “In Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, the last month of enrollment will be March 2015,” Cava wrote in an email. “In Los Angeles, it will be June 2015. In Santa Clara, it will be December 2015.  Orange and Alameda counties are currently set to begin in July 2015 and end in June 2016. In San Mateo, there are just two enrollment months: April 2014 and January 2015.”

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