Millions may lose benefits
Addressing the effects of the pandemic is an ongoing process in different areas for the government. California is now expected to review more than 15 million Medi-Cal enrollees over the next two weeks after suspending the process once the pandemic started. An estimated two to three million Californians may leave the program during this “unwinding period” that is happening nationwide.
“This month is a big month for the Department of Health Services. On April 1, Medi-Cal started the renewal process of all applicants, which is normal but stopped because of the pandemic.” said Yingjia Huang, assistant deputy director of Health Care Benefits and Eligibility with the California Department of Health Care Services. “Over the next year, everybody will have their Medi-Cal eligibility redetermined, and the department will need updated information from members during this time.”
Huang directs people to the Medi-Cal website to fill out this information and renew their applications. Medi-Cal enrollees who have their information up to date do not need to be worried about the renewal process as long as their benefits stay active within the year.
Mayra E. Alvarez, president of The Children’s Partnership, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to advance child health equity, talked about the importance of helping families keep their coverage during the unwinding period.
“Health insurance coverage and access to care are essential to everybody in the family for them to thrive.” Alvarez said as she explained how dependent families and kids are on Medi-Cal and the benefits and insurance coverage. “Out of the 15 million Medi-Cal enrollees, five million are kids that depend on the government service for health coverage, and over 70% of the enrollees are people of color that also depend on the service.”
Alvarez said that while this period of Unwinding may seem nerve-racking, there are enough benefits for all 15 million people to be provided coverage, and there are other options people can use for health services.
“Covered California is another great service provider for people of color as long-standing and structural racism has created an environment where families of color experience sufficient degrees of instability in employment, housing, and income. These conditions have heightened the risk of disruption in health coverage, and have eliminated the security that comes with having this benefit.” Alvarez said.
Alvarez wants to encourage everybody to apply for Medi-Cal, and having social security does not affect your eligibility for the benefits. You can sign up for Medi-Cal services and check your application status by visiting https://tinyurl.com/25ennp38.