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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Smooth Transitions into Medi-Cal: Ensuring Continuity of Coverage for Low Income Health Program Enrollees


In 2014, over 500,000 California residents will transition from the Low Income Health Program (LIHP) to new health coverage provided by Medi-Cal or subsidized health plans offered in Covered California. This Policy Note focuses on the transition of more than 470,000 lower-income LIHP enrollees into a state-operated Medi-Cal program. If a county-based approach is adopted, expanding the existing local LIHPs, adjustments to the plan will be needed. The LIHPs continue to grow; one-third of those potentially eligible for the Affordable Care Act’s optional Medi-Cal expansion have already been enrolled in the LIHP. The Department of Health Care Services has made considerable efforts to involve stakeholders in the planning process for the transition. Including providers, consumer advocates, and other stakeholder groups will enhance the transition to Medi-Cal, regardless of the implementation approach. Further recommendations include: engaging in automatic Medi-Cal eligibility determination methods, establishing procedures for data transfer that will provide adequate time for Medi-Cal enrollment, creating an extensive communication and outreach plan and evaluating the need for special transition plans for populations in need of additional assistance. 

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