Governor Brown Signs Legislation to Save Dollars, Smooth Medi-Cal Communication Under Affordable Care Act
County Social Services Agencies & Front-line Workers Teamed Up to Reduce Confusion

Press release Cathy Senderling-McDonald

County Social Services Agencies and the front-line workers who help eligible Californians access health care benefits praised Governor Brown’s signature on SB 1341 (Mitchell), a bill that will save taxpayer dollars and reduce confusion in the Medi-Cal program.

“With Governor Brown signing SB 1341, California’s 22,000 Eligibility Workers will have an additional resource to be able to serve the public as they apply for Medi-Cal. We thank Governor Brown, Senator Mitchell and Secretary Dooley for their support as California moves forward in providing healthcare for all,” said Elvia Malvido, Los Angeles County Eligibility Supervisor and member of SEIU Local 721.

County eligibility workers are the front-line service providers who determine eligibility for services such as Medi-Cal, CalWORKs, and CalFresh. However, a new computer system developed by the state to implement California’s health exchange, Covered California, and the new Medi-Cal eligibility standards under the Affordable Care Act have resulted in consumers being given incorrect information about their eligibility – through documents known as “Notices of Action” – and facing long delays in correcting the information. This has led to confusion for Medi-Cal applicants and recipients, large volumes of calls to counties, and more appeals by applicants. Although county eligibility workers often identify problems with notices generated by this new state system, they’ve been unable to prevent or correct the problematic notices.

SB 1341 clarifies that the county Medi-Cal eligibility system is the system that should be providing customers with information on Medi-Cal cases and sending notices to them. An analysis by the County Welfare Directors Association found the bill will save $40-80 million annually by correcting these procedures.

“It’s critical that our customers be informed clearly and correctly when decisions are made about their Medi-Cal eligibility,” said Cathy Senderling-McDonald, Deputy Executive Director of the County Welfare Directors Association. “County social services offices are an accessible resource Californians count on, and SB 1341 ensures we can fulfill our responsibility and service to California communities while saving dollars for state taxpayers.”

###