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Medi-Cal Renewal Now Automatic for Eligible Californians

By McKenzie Jackson/ California Black Media

Los Angeles County resident, Diyon Clark, is relieved to learn that his Medi-Cal renewal will be automatic this year. In 2014, he remembers his re-certification process being especially confusing and frustrating.

“That’s cool,” said Clark, a 20-year-old who lives in the San Fernando Valley. “That is one thing I hopefully won’t have to worry about.”

Late last year, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced that county human services agencies across the state will renew coverage for most Medi-Cal members by using the information they already have on file. That includes information pertaining to a person’s place of residence, immigration status, and income. If the county is able to verify all of an individual’s information their coverage will be renewed.

In a March 25th email, DHCS spokesperson Anthony Cava said re-certifications begin well ahead of the date members’ plans are set to expire.

“For renewals due January 1, 2015,” he wrote, “the process started approximately 60 days in advance (end of October/early November 2014).”

For Californians who qualify, Medi-Cal offers health care benefits at either no or low cost. The coverage funds a prevention-oriented approach that promotes well-being through 21 managed and county-specific health plans such as Anthem Blue Cross, L.A. Care and Molina.

The health program is open to low-income adults; individuals with disabilities; families with children; senior citizens; children in foster care as well as former foster youth up to age 26; and pregnant women. According to numbers from DHCS, as of last month approximately 927,280 African Americans were enrolled in Medi-Cal.

This year, DHCS expects to renew the insurance plans of about 12 million Medi-Cal members. “If all the information is available and it indicates continued eligibility, the individual’s coverage will be continued for another 12 months,” said Cava. Clark, who is half African American and half Jewish and has been covered by Medi-Cal for most of his life, says the most painful part of his renewal process last spring was completing it by phone.

“It took about three months for me to get renewed,” said Clark, a college student and wireless phone salesman. “I was told to call and ask for Medi-Cal, then Covered California, then Medi-Cal.”

Clark said needing to have surgery on his torn rotator cuff last year further complicated the process and heightened his frustration. And he was not the only person angered by the 2014 renewal process. There was a significant amount of chatter among health care advocates and Medi-Cal users alike, lamenting the fact that due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the questions asked on the renewal forms had become too complicated.

Elizabeth Landsberg, director of legislative advocacy at the Sacramento office of the Western Center on Law & Poverty, an organization that works to secure housing, health care, and a strong safety net for low-income Californians, said the renewal process seems to be more streamlined now.

“The process we have been seeing in 2015 is quite different,” she said. “Essentially in the past we had been expecting people to re-apply for Medi-Cal all over again. Now the onus is on the state to check people’s records.

Cava said Medi-Cal users will only have to complete renewal forms if their Medi-Cal service cannot be automatically renewed, for example DHCS cannot verify certain information like income or residency.

“Then, a pre-populated renewal form is sent to them, outlining the information used for the redetermination and what information is still needed from them to complete the renewal process,” he said.

Cava said that any forms must be completed within a 90-day period or a current enrollee could lose his or her Medi-Cal coverage.

“This is our standard Medi-Cal policy,” he said. “If the information is provided within this timeframe, the counties will accept the information as if it had been submitted on time and complete the redetermination process. If the person remains eligible, their coverage will resume and be treated as if there was never a break in coverage.”

Besides providing an opportunity to have surgery on his rotator cuff, Clark says having Medi-Cal also allowed him to have surgery on his broken right hand – all within the past year. Inserting a metal plate into one of his appendages wasn’t cheap, he said.

“Medi-Cal has saved me at least $20,000 in medical bills, easily” he said.

For more information on renewals, visit your local county human services agency, go to www.coveredca.com/medi-cal/renewing-medi-cal-coverage/ online or call 1-800-300-1506.


The article above is brought to you by California Black Media, a coalition of Black -owned media outlets committed to making a difference in our communities.  It is made possible via a grant for public outreach from The California Endowment. We share the common goal in reaching as many residents as possible with useful information that will help expand access to affordable, quality healthcare to all Californians. 

ISAH Block by Block Neighborhood Juneteenth Community Celebration

 San Bernardino, CA- When Dr. Deborah Winn gave thought to how her organization WWAM, Inc., could  commemorate the celebration ending slavery in America, Annual Juneteenth Event, she realized that the greatest tribute and challenge was literally right outside her front door. A four year resident of Wall Avenue in San Bernardino, CA, Dr Winn says she and her husband saw past the bleak future confronting many of their neighbors.
She states, “Our greatest concern was our young men, shootings, gang violence, drugs, prostitution, abandoned properties, loitering and seniors afraid to go outside after 5:00 pm.  We knew there had to be hope, given San Bernardino was once one of America’s greatest cities. We know the people in this vary community can be part of making San Bernardino be a great city again beginning with their block first.”
Part of this great effort will take place on Saturday, June 20 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. as WWAM hosts the multicultural, family centered “It Starts At Home (ISAH) Block by Block Neighborhood Community Juneteenth Celebration.”  Featured will be resources for jobs, housing, utility assistance, health services, business development, guest speakers and more.  Additionally, a strong push for voter registration will be a major agenda for the day.  WWAM has already received the forms and will be active in discussing the importance and power of voting with residents.
Additionally, pastors and ministries from local congregations will begin the event with praise and worship, as well as, prayer block-by-block.  Street Positive CEO, Terry Boykins, will be doing a special outreach and engagement with fathers in the community.
Dr. Winn has invited long-time friend and famed community advocate and trailblazer, Dr. “Sweet Alice” Harris (a.k.a. Mother of Watts) to be the keynote speaker.  She comments, “Working together we can rally and return our city to the place people want to call home.  Wall Ave stands ready to do its part for the good.”
Vendor Booth opportunities are still available. Informational booths are $40 and product booths are $100. WWAM is also on the lookout for African vendors that sell African jewelry, art, clothing, and more. For those that are interested in getting a booth, please call (909) 889-9505 or email wwaminc92@yahoo.com to fill out a vendor form

Retired Las Vegas Cop Returns to Southern California with a Lifesaving Message for Kids


GARDEN GROVE, CA- R. Byron Stringer, a Las Vegas Cop for over 26 years, took the stories he saw on the street and created the Toe Tag Monologues.  He presented the Toe Tag Monologues last weekend at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Garden Grove.

The Boys and Girls Club hosted their 1st Annual Teen Leadership Conference from May 29 to 31, and was pleased to include Toe Tag Monologues.  This performing troop, coming from Las Vegas, consists of teenagers who performed life changing monologues about Bullying, Teen Suicide, Human Trafficking, Gang Violence, Drug Abuse, Drunk Driving, School Violence and much more.  There is no other program like it in our country!

Stringer, a native of San Bernardino, believes that the rest of America is only a moment away from becoming a Ferguson or Baltimore. The Toe Tag Monologues uses Drama to help kids get through their own Drama.

“We have to do what the City of Garden Grove, California is doing and begin to heal our children.  We can no longer just lecture our kids but we have to learn to listen as well,” Stringer said. “This conference, “Turn Up For Success”, is laying a template for others to follow.”

For more information on the Toe Tag Monologues, please visit byronstringer.com.