Health Access comments on Federal approval of “Medi-Cal 2020” waiver

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services officially approved California’s new “Medi-Cal 2020” waiver for the next five years, providing new resources and provide new flexibility and accountability for improved care for the millions of low-income Californians with Medi-Cal health coverage, as well as those who remain uninsured.

The new Medicaid waiver–the understanding between the state and federal governments on how to run the Medicaid program–would provide at least $6.2 billion in new funds and likely more over the next five years to California, as well as to encourage innovation in health delivery, dental care, safety-net services for the remaining uninsured, and integration with other human services. The current “Bridge to Reform” waiver, which has been in place for the last five years and including California’s innovative early expansion of Medicaid through county Low-Income Health Programs–expires tomorrow at the end of the year.

ON MEDI-CAL 2020 AND THE WORK AHEAD: “California has a lot of work to do to take advantage of the new funding and flexibility in this waiver agreement to help improve care for millions of Californians with Medi-Cal coverage and those who remain uninsured. In addition to covering 12 million Californians, Medi-Cal is a central pillar of the health system that we all rely on, and we need to use to this waiver to spur innovation across the state on health care delivery, on dental care, on safety-net services for the remaining uninsured, and on integrating health with other human services. The waiver also brings new accountability for Medi-Cal on the question of access to care, and of paying for value rather than volume,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “We expect an explosion of activity locally, as counties take advantage of the funding opportunities and work to revamp their safety-nets and set up pilot projects on integrating human services. Community groups have been working with their counties on improving and expanding their efforts for the remaining uninsured, and this will take those efforts to the next level.”

ON 2015’S BIG YEAR GOING BEYOND THE ACA: “This waiver caps a year of major California health policy efforts to go beyond the Affordable Care Act to provide new patient protections and extend care to the remaining uninsured,” said Wright of Health Access. “California adopted landmark consumer protection legislation to require accurate provider directories, limit extreme prescription drug cost-sharing, and ban junk insurance. California increased enrollment in Medi-Cal and Covered California, and agreed to expand coverage to all children regardless of immigration status–and many counties are stepping up efforts for the remaining uninsured. Even with a successful year in ongoing health reform, there’s much more work to do, and the waiver provides new tools and funding to supercharge county and state efforts to improve our health system for all Californians.”

About Health Access
Health Access works to secure quality, affordable health care for all Californians. Health Access California is the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, advocating for the goal of quality, affordable health care for all Californians. Health Access Foundation undertakes community organizing and education, applied research, and policy analysis, and advocates for reform to benefit health care consumers, both insured and uninsured. These two organizations are the leading coalition voice for health care consumers in California. We represent consumers in the legislature, at administrative and regulatory agencies, in the media, and at public forums. For more info, please visit