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Medi-cal expanding coverage for some Californians

The California Department of Healthcare Services office in Sacramento
Wikimedia / Creative Commons
The California Department of Healthcare Services office in Sacramento

For three years during the pandemic, the federal government paid states to keep people insured through Medicaid, regardless of whether or not they still qualified. They called this “continuous coverage.”

But in May of 2024, the “continuous coverage” program will end and states will again be responsible for making sure members still qualify for low-income health insurance plans. This means some people will lose their Medi-cal insurance, but it’s not yet clear how many.

On the flip side, next year Medi-cal is expanding coverage for low-income adults between the ages of 26 and 49, regardless of immigration status. They’re also eliminating the asset test for seniors and people with disabilities, making California the first state to do so.

The state has also made big changes to its contracts with managed care providers. Kaiser Permanente will be available in ten new counties next year, but Anthem Blue Cross is exiting Medi-cal.

Moran than 100,000 people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties are currently covered by Anthem and will have to switch to a managed care plan. That’s a type of health insurance plan that’s meant to keep costs low and quality of care high. Drawbacks of managed care plans are that you have fewer choices when it comes to picking a provider.

The California Department of Health Care Services says these changes are meant to improve health equity, quality of and access to Medi-cal.

Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.