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Congressman Tony Cardenas

Representing the 29th District of California

CÁRDENAS: EXTEND MEDI-CAL DEADLINES TO PROTECT 200,000 L.A. RESIDENTS

Nov 25, 2014
Press Release
Following reports in the media indicating that hundreds of thousands of L.A. County residents could lose Medi-Cal benefits due to a government error, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) called on the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) to extend Medi-Cal renewal deadlines for those affected.

Monday, November 24, 2014

 

CÁRDENAS: EXTEND MEDI-CAL DEADLINES TO PROTECT 200,000 L.A. RESIDENTS

(San Fernando Valley, Calif.) – Following reports in the media indicating that hundreds of thousands of L.A. County residents could lose Medi-Cal benefits due to a government error, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) called on the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) to extend Medi-Cal renewal deadlines for those affected.

“With less time to process the renewal and without sufficient English comprehension, many families did not realize the steps necessary to renewing their Medi-Cal coverage,” Cárdenas said in his letter to CDHS Director Toby Douglas. “This is unacceptable.”

While 22 percent of Medi-Cal customers have a primary language other than English, and Medi-Cal documents are required by law to be fully accessible by the public, CDHS sent English-only renewal documents to five million customers statewide, six months later than normal. Because of translation issues and the delay in mailing, 200,000 L.A. County residents may lose coverage.

“Millions of Californian families are at risk of losing the only insurance they can afford,” Cárdenas said Monday. “Many are hard workers who are simply trying to grow their families and make our state a better place. We cannot fail them by letting this massive headache drop on them. They deserve reprieve from a mistake made by those paid to work for the people of our state.”

“I urge you to extend the deadline for renewals of Medi-Cal for those families already enrolled and to disseminate language-sensitive information regarding the renewal process to those families in danger of cancellation,” the letter continued. “It is of the utmost importance to ensure universal accessibility to health care.”

An article in the Los Angeles Daily News indicates that, previously, forms “all were available in the state’s primary languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Hmong, Cambodian, Arabic and Farsi.”

CDHS is urging those who lose Medi-Cal coverage to call a local legal aid program at 888-804-3536.

Cárdenas' letter is reprinted below.

 

 

November 24, 2014

 

Toby Douglas

Director

California Department of Health Services

P.O. Box 997413, MS 0006

Sacramento, CA 95899-7413

 

Dear Director Douglas,

I am writing to you on behalf of the thousands of Los Angeles County families who are likely to have their Medi-Cal coverage terminated within the coming months and to urge you to extend the deadline for renewals.  These families must receive sufficient time to submit their forms and maintain affordable health insurance.

As you know, California is mandated by law to make all forms regarding Medi-Cal publicly accessible.  According to enrollment statistics, twenty-two percent of applicants that were found “likely eligible for Medi-Cal” had a primary language other than English.  These significant populations of non-English speakers who benefit from Medi-Cal provisions require translation in order to comprehend key documents.  In order to foster accessibility of these forms, it is necessary for crucial documents, such as renewal notices, to be translated into California’s primary languages.  Renewal notices were sent to 5 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries after a six month delay, yet not all were translated into key languages spoken in California.  With less time to process the renewal and without sufficient English comprehension, many families did not realize the steps necessary to renewing their Medi-Cal coverage. This is unacceptable. 

In light of a large influx of Medi-Cal enrollment resulting from the predicted impact of the Affordable Care Act, it is important to continue ensuring the coverage of this vulnerable population. The Medi-Cal program is absolutely vital to multiple families who depend upon Medi-Cal provisions for their most basic care. These families are enrolled in Medi-Cal precisely because they cannot afford access to other types of health care. Therefore the abrupt loss of coverage, threatened by the provision demanding renewal, will be devastating to many of the estimated 200,000 Los Angeles County beneficiaries who will lose Medi-Cal coverage by the end of the year.

I urge you to extend the deadline for renewals of Medi-Cal for those families already enrolled and to disseminate language-sensitive information regarding the renewal process to those families in danger of cancellation.  It is of the utmost importance to ensure universal accessibility to health care.  Please join me in supporting those families vulnerable to this change by taking action on their behalf.

I look forward to hearing about the steps the California Department of Health Services is taking to ensure vulnerable families are not punished for these oversights. If you wish to further discuss this matter, please contact my office at (202) 225-6131.

Sincerely,