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.
By Lou Coleman
In the waiting room – ever been there, I have and it is not easy. I think that at some point and time in our lives all of us go through a stage in our life where we wonder if God will ever show up. It seems as if we are always falling into a life of constant hard times and nothingness. Every time you turn around there is a different trial, a different problem and a different tribulation. But, year after year, you are told that this is your year. Year after year, preacher after preacher has spoken sermon after sermon telling you to get ready for your blessing. Prophets have called you up and told you to get ready for the move of God in your life, and you wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and nothing seems to happen. You began to get so frustrated and tired of waiting that you began to lose faith in what God has promised you and that loss of faith eventually turns to disbelief. You began to think that maybe God didn’t tell you what you thought He did, so you decide that you will no longer wait; you have waited long enough! Guess what, you have just stopped God’s movement in your life and killed your blessings. The reason that God had not moved in your situation so far is because it was not yet your appointed time for a visitation.
What I know is that we as people of God or people in general have a problem with waiting. We want what we want; when we want it and how we want. We are a spoiled generation. It doesn’t matter if it is good for us or not, we just want it. And if it doesn’t happen when we think it should we begin to come up with our own plans on how we are going to make it happen. We tend to want to move too fast instead of waiting on God. I tell you we will save ourselves some trouble, hard aches and pain if only we will remember what Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.” But we want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. I tell you as soon as you do that, Satan will come in with his sneaky conniving self and give you a right now counterfeit blessing; something that will take your mind and focus off God. It always seems to be in our nature to go for the right now thing, instead of the right thing that which God has for us. But as Ms. Aretha Franklin, said, “You better think!”
Listen, the Scriptures says in Habakkuk 2:3, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” One of our problems today is that we have lost the biblical perspective of the majestic greatness of God, and we have a completely wrong focus on God. We are just like Habakkuk… “How long, O Lord, must I call for help?” Habakkuk’s words are a complaint; he has major issues to take up with God. I suspect we do as well, if we are honest. Apparently, Habakkuk had repeatedly called upon God to act, to intervene, to set things right, to just do something. Yet it seemed that God had not heard him and God would not act to save. Finally, out of a deep sense of frustration and confusion, he cries out to God, “How long, O Lord, must I call for your help, but you do not listen?” “Lord, please do something! Act like God. Can’t you see we are weary of fighting against wrong and trying to do good?” I tell you the Lord intends to keep His people dependent upon Him. Amazingly though in the midst of all his crying, Habakkuk decides to takes God at his word. Habakkuk trusts that God is already at work, even if he can’t see it. He trusts that God has more to say, and he commits himself to waiting on God rather than taking matters into his own hands. This is the rub in the story. Habakkuk assumes a disposition of waiting with confident trust in God. We too must be persuaded that God is in control of the timing and intensity of our trials. If you are a child of God I want you to know that you have the means by which to stand firm in the face of any trial. Trust that God has a reason for your sufferings and waiting. Submit yourself to whatever He desires to teach you. The road may be rocky, but a wise response will lead you into the joy He has promised. I’m telling you what I know. You see, I know about waiting to give birth to the promises of God and never seeing it come forth. I know about waking up in the middle of the night crying and asking God what’s next and not receiving an answer. I know about travailing for a promise, year after year, and having it never come to pass. I know about never ending disappointment but I am here to tell you on today that God has not forgotten about any of us. Galatians 6:9 says at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t’ give up. I’m so thankful that we have the Bible to help us understand how God works in all the seasons of life to help us find faith and grow and mature. God always have a purpose. I often have to stop and consider this. That all that happens in my life – the bitter things, the hard things, the hurtful things, the triumphs and the victories – can work for good. I want you to know that waiting is the process of becoming what God wants us to be. What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.
If you’re going through a season of life and you don’t think much is happening, be faithful to God; trust Him. The promises of God remain Yes and Amen! The fact that God would send a word like this at this particular time should be confirmation to you that you are close to what God has promised you! I come to tell you to wait on it! Don’t compromise with the devil. Wait on it! Don’t break down your standard, wait on it! No matter how long it takes He might not come when you want Him to come, but He is always on time. Give God the Glory!