NLSLA Sues to Prevent 200,000 Wrongful Medi-Cal Terminations
As many as 200,000 Medi-Cal recipients were shocked to learn they were losing their healthcare benefits at the end of November. In Los Angeles County alone, close to 100,000 Medi-Cal families got termination notices in the first of several waves of terminations by the state, which is moving to push as many as two million people off Medi-Cal because they didn’t complete renewal forms.
But many of those being terminated had no way of knowing they had to complete the forms, which the state failed to translate into the primary languages spoken by many Californians. The state’s renewal forms—already some of the most confusing in the nation—were incomprehensible to many recipients.
“State officials are moving forward with the terminations—in clear violation of state and federal law—even though they know the majority of these recipients remain eligible for Medi-Cal,” said NLSLA attorney Cori Racela in a recent Los Angeles Daily News article. “The sheer number of imminent terminations threatens to undermine the progress we’ve made expanding benefits under Obamacare.”
Neighborhood Legal Services, along with a coalition of legal services groups, sued the state to halt the terminations. Longstanding state and federal laws clearly state California cannot cut Medi-Cal benefits without first determining a recipient is no longer eligible. In order to prevent eligible beneficiaries from losing their Medi-Cal benefits during implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Congress and the California Legislature buttressed those laws with additional protections.
The state and counties have postponed the renewal process for many months, leaving recipients to think they didn’t need to take any action in order to keep their insurance. What’s more, the state’s termination notices do not include required information about the 90-day window allowing recipients to restore benefits.