Insurers Question Physicians’ Acceptance of Medi-Cal Kids

Some California health plans are expressing concerns that there will not be enough physicians who are willing to accept children moved from the Healthy Families program to Medi-Cal, California Watch reports.

Healthy Families is California’s Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program (Jewett, California Watch, 11/29).

Background

In October, California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley announced that the state is moving forward with plans to shift about 863,000 children from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal next year. Dooley said that the transition will help streamline and simplify government health care programs for California children.
Eliminating Healthy Families is estimated to reduce state spending by $13 million this fiscal year and $73 million annually after the transition is finished, according the state. The Department of Health Care Services said it plans to move all children enrolled in Healthy Families into Medi-Cal by Sept. 1, 2013. The beneficiaries are expected to be moved in four phases, depending on whether their physicians and health plans already accept Medi-Cal (California Healthline, 10/17).

Details of Concerns

Health Net has notified the state that it is unsure of how many of its physicians will continue to care for children after they are moved to Medi-Cal, which pays physicians less for health care services than Healthy Families.

Health Net covers about 86,000 children in four counties:

Fresno;
Los Angeles;
Sacramento; and
San Diego.

Health Net said it could not determine physicians’ willingness to take on children enrolled in Medi-Cal without seeing reimbursement estimates. CalViva — a plan that contracts with Health Net and has nearly 15,000 members in Fresno, Kings and Madera counties — reported similar concerns to state officials.

State Actions

In response to the concerns, state officials moved the transition date for Healthy Families beneficiaries covered by Health Net and CalViva from Jan. 1, 2013, to March 1, 2013. Norman Williams — a DHCS spokesperson — said that the agency provided physician payment information to Health Net on Nov. 5 and is continuing to collect data about whether physicians will accept Medi-Cal beneficiaries (California Watch, 11/29).

 

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