Members of major Medi-Cal health plans—Anthem Blue Cross and Health Net—spoke at the 2023 State of Reform Northern California Health Policy Conference about their preparations for Medi-Cal redeterminations. After a three-year pause in conducting redeterminations due to the public health emergency’s continuous coverage benefit, the state began its redetermination process on April 1st for beneficiaries with a June renewal date, and the first Medi-Cal disenrollments are expected to begin in July.
Beau Hennemann, regional vice president of local engagement and plan performance for Anthem Blue Cross, said he has been focused on reaching out to plan members about the process over the past six to eight months, and encouraging members to update their contact information with the county.
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“The idea is to reach the member when they should be expecting that redetermination packet,” Hennemann said, adding that Anthem has been working with community-based organizations, provider networks, and direct calls to members for outreach.
Cathy Senderling-McDonald, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, provided input from a local county health standpoint. She said counties have grown their call centers to decrease wait times. Some local county health employees who were hired during the pandemic underwent renewal process training, while long-time employees underwent refresher training on the renewal process.
“We now have data exchanges with all of our county partners, where we are sending them on a monthly basis files with updated contact information of our members,” Hennemann said. “And that may not seem like a big deal, but it’s huge because previously, we were not able to share that type of data with the county.”
Prior to the county partner data exchanges, members calling health plans to update their contact information were redirected to local county health departments. Hennemann said not every current member will maintain their Medi-Cal coverage, and Anthem will be working to connect individuals who are no longer eligible with other Anthem products, with the goal of keeping individuals with their current providers.
Darrel Ng, vice president of communications and marketing for Health Net, said that in addition to data exchanges between the plan and local counties, they’ve created their own digital and physical toolkits.
“Our first step was English and Spanish, and now we’re in the process of getting the other 15 [threshold languages] translated,” Ng said. “Through working with (community-based organizations) who have a unique relationship with many of those populations, making sure materials are translated, and having that live call being taken—at least it’s a good start.”
Ng also said Health Net has a team of employees who conducted Medi-Cal redeterminations prior to March 2020, and that the health plan has data on who will call about redeterminations, and average periods of time for calls.
“The volume of calls hasn’t been that high yet,” Hennemann said. “I think one of the challenges that we’re all going to face very soon is being able to pivot quickly, and evaluating how things are going.”
Hennemann expects call volume to increase once more members become aware of the redetermination process, and disenrollments begin in July.