Cal­i­for­nia to ex­pand cov­er­age for un­doc­u­mented chil­dren

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Vir­gil Dick­son

Pri­mary-care providers say an ex­pan­sion of Medi-Cal cov­er­age to un­doc­u­mented chil­dren in Cal­i­for­nia will help them serve a pop­u­la­tion that is flood­ing the sys­tem. But low Medi-Cal pay­ment rates could limit the value of ex­pan­sion.

Gov. Jerry Brown and leg­isla­tive lead­ers an­nounced the pro­posal last week to cover chil­dren un­der age 19 as part of a bud­get deal.

About 170,000 kids could qual­ify for the ex­pan­sion. Cov­er­age to qual­i­fy­ing chil­dren would be­gin in May 2016, cost­ing $40 mil­lion un­der the new bud­get and an es­ti­mated $132 mil­lion in an­nual fund­ing af­ter that. Cur­rently, the state of­fers un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants only emer­gency and preg­nancy-re­lated ser­vices.

“Some par­ents may de­lay seek­ing care for their child, hop­ing they’ll get bet­ter be­cause they are ner­vous they’ll get a big bill at the hos­pi­tal” or that they may be re­ported to immigration of­fi­cials, said Janet Coff­man, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of health pol­icy at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at San Fran­cisco.

For chil­dren il­le­gally in the coun­try to be el­i­gi­ble for Medi-Cal, the state’s healthcare pro­gram for the poor, a fam­ily of four would have to make less than $59,625 a year.

The pol­icy change means chil­dren will be able to ac­cess pre­ven­tive ser­vices and not have to wait for an emer­gency to seek care.

How­ever, Medi-Cal rates paid to providers are so low that there’s a short­age of physi­cians who ac­cept Medi-Cal, said Jan Emer­son-Shea, vice pres­i­dent of ex­ter­nal af­fairs at the Cal­i­for­nia Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion. The state ranks 48th in the na­tion in how much it pays hos­pi­tals, doc­tors and other providers for treat­ing Medi-Cal pa­tients, ac­cord­ing to the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.