CA: DHCS faces legal action again over Medi-Cal Coverage Cancellations

A coalition of advocacy groups filed a lawsuit on Nov. 17 against the California Department of Health Care Services on behalf of residents who received health care coverage through Medi-cal and had their coverage terminated without proper notice.

Under California’s Medicaid expansion earlier this year, new eligibility standards required previously-enrolled Californians to reapply for coverage. An estimated 2.7 million additional individuals gained eligibility under the expansion bringing the total number of state residents covered by the program to 11.3 million, according to California Healthline.

But the lawsuit filed by the Western Center on Law & Poverty, alleged that previously enrolled Medi-Cal enrollees were not given proper notification time or the resources to renew their coverage under the new rules. The renewal forms requested additional information and were composed of numerous packages written in language challenging even to native English speakers, according to Cori Racela, staff attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.

“They don’t even know what these packets are for and why they’re receiving so many documents together that they can’t even read,” said Connie Lo, health programs coordinator at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles in the California Healthline report.

Advocacy groups are filing a temporary restraining order against DHCS to prevent future cancellations of cases without proper notification.

This is DHCS’s second time in the media this year. A backlog of 350,000 Medi-Cal cases in September sparked legal advocates in Alameda County to petition the court to order the department to review Medi-Cal eligibility requirements within a 45 day period. The petition also called for continued health care coverage for the duration of eligibility review. DHCS responded in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that computer troubles were the primary cause of the Medicaid backlogs.

Medi-Cal beneficiaries can check up on the status of their applications at their county human services agency, according to the DHCS.