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More Healthy Families Feedback Sought

The state has had difficulty getting input from families involved in this year’s transition of 860,000 Healthy Families beneficiaries into Medi-Cal managed care plans. Only 11% of those contacted in the most recent survey responded to the state’s questions, officials reported Wednesday.

Results of a beneficiary survey were released at the monthly meeting of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which oversees Healthy Families. State officials called 5,000 Healthy Families households to ask about the transition. Only 568 of them — about 11% — responded.

“One of the pieces of the puzzle is getting more people engaged,” said Rene Mollow, deputy director of health care benefits and eligibility for the Department of Health Care Services, which is overseeing the shift to Medi-Cal.

More than 700,000 low-income children and their families have made the switch to Medi-Cal managed care plans since the phased transition started in January. Roughly 146,000 children still remain in the Healthy Families program, according to MRMIB officials.

Of the children moved into Medi-Cal so far, the majority of them have been able to keep their current health plan and their primary care physician, according to Terresa Krum, chief deputy director of MRMIB. Those two factors have been cited as a marker of maintaining continuity of care and a vital concern for patients and advocates.

In the DHCS survey, Krum pointed out, just half of the people who transitioned sought care under new Medi-Cal plans. That could mean they haven’t sought care because they haven’t needed it — or it could signal a deeper confusion about the transition to a new Medi-Cal plan, she said.

Given the low rate of response, though, there’s no way to know, she said.

“There is some concern about this being a statistically insignificant number upon which to draw conclusion,” Krum said.

Mollow said DHCS has expanded call hours in recent months to reach more people when they’re home, so the department can use better information to evaluate problems and successes.

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