ObamaCare

By Helen Shen
Kaiser Health News
Posted: 06/28/2014 12:20:48 PM PDT
Updated: 06/28/2014 08:23:26 PM PDT

A mountainous backlog of Medi-Cal applications is well into its third month, but California officials have provided little information about how and when the largest such bottleneck in the nation might be cleared.

The California Department of Health Care Services first reported 800,000 pending applications in April. A month later, that number had grown by 100,000 and has not budged much since.

As the state works through older applications, new ones continue each day to enter the system, which has been plagued by computer glitches and inefficient procedures for verifying applicants’ personal information.

There are no estimates of processing times or how long delays will persist, though a state official said earlier this month that new applications appear to have slowed. “All the resources are just devoted to getting people moving forward,” said Norman Williams, a department spokesman.

Not only has application processing been delayed, the state has also fallen behind in sending final notifications to enrollees, officials confirmed. Meanwhile, many low-income people who qualify for Medi-Cal are showing up at community clinics and costly emergency rooms as they have in the past. Others are putting off care.

Although Medi-Cal coverage is retroactive from the time eligible patients apply, some patients don’t know about the rule or simply don’t trust they will be covered until they have a card in hand.

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