CA healthcare patients are penalized with paperwork

Health care is even more important in the minds of Californians as we go through the ritual of signing up for insurance in 2024.

For families using Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for the poor, it can be even more complicated, writes CalMatters health reporter Ana B. Ibarra. Six months after the state restarted the health insurance eligibility process, more than 835,000 people whose Medi-Cal was terminated between June and October lost that coverage because of incomplete or missing paperwork.

California is also the fourth-worst in the nation for coverage related to procedural issues,” says the KFF (formerly The Kaiser Family Foundation) tracker. In this category, the reasons why eligible people lose coverage vary: People are unprepared; they did not know that the verification process had been restarted; they moved and did not receive renewal notices; or they submitted their papers but the county offices may not have processed them in time.

In response, California’s deputy director of health services said the state has received help from the federal government to increase the number of cases that can be automatically renewed. People who have lost their Medi-Cal also have the option to re-enroll if they provide the missing information within a 90-day grace period.

To learn more about Californians losing Medi-Cal coverage, read Anas’ story.

Speaking of health care, California has a significant shortage of nurses, and universities are tasked in part with training more to replace those retiring or leaving the state.

Christopher Buchanan and Jacqueline Munis of the CalMatters College Journalism Network report that private nursing schools are enrolling more students each year, filling gaps as public universities struggle to grow their nursing programs.

In 2021, 55% of the 16,600 places in nursing education for associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees were in private educational institutions. According to the California Board of Nursing, nearly 64,300 students applied. Private nursing programs, which can cost up to seven times as much as public programs, also had three times more students with bachelor’s degrees than public equivalents.

Even so, the head of the California Nurses Association warned that if admissions to public schools stagnate and private school prices remain high, California could still lose more potential nurses to other states.

Read more about private nursing programs in California in Christopher and Jacqueline’s story.

Health care includes mental health, and Governor Gavin Newsom wants to make significant changes. But nearly every county has been slow to adopt one of the biggest reforms Newsom helped push, and he’s not happy.

As Ana and CalMatters health reporter Kristen Hwang explain, the governor signed legislation in October that significantly loosens the rules on who can be involuntarily committed to mental health care. Fifty-six of the state’s 58 counties have requested permission to delay the conservation policy until 2026, drawing the governor’s ire at a press conference Friday: The state has done its job. It’s time for the municipalities to do their job… We can’t afford to wait.

But county leaders say given the high number of people in need of care, it’s important to properly implement the law. Until they get more guidance and secure resources for training and infrastructure, a lack of staff and funding will make it difficult to move forward with the new law.

  • Nora VargasThe chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, in a statement to CalMatters: San Diego County is implementing (the conservatorship law) in a methodical and fair manner because these are real people and real families who are seeking care.

Read more about the Newsoms’ reaction to the release of Kristen and Anas’ story.

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