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400,000 Medi-Cal Applicants Still Waiting for Coverage

Aug 20, 2014

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Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The state of California says about 400,000 applicants to the Medi-Cal program are still waiting for their coverage. Administrators say they’ve made a lot of progress on the backlog in recent weeks. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us from Sacramento, consumer advocates say the state could be doing more to get people coverage faster.  

The State says there was a tremendous wave of applicants to Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act – it has enrolled more than two million people. Norman Williams of the California Department of Health Care Services says that’s part of the reason for the back-up. 

Williams: “The application, volume and the newness of the system combined to cause issues that delayed some of the verifications.”

He says the department is starting to batch process applications and it’s redirected staff to push pending enrollees to coverage. But Elizabeth Landsberg of the Western Center on Law and Poverty says the state should presume some applicants to be eligible now, and verify later. 

Landsberg: “We have some people who are going without care, people are confused and we have people skipping medications and not getting the care that they need.”

Both the state and health care advocates have sent letters to the federal government about the problem. Advocates are concerned about the hundreds of thousands of people waiting more than 45 days for coverage. That could be a violation of federal law.