On Saturday, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) agreed in principle to a five-year, $6.2 billion waiver for California’s Medicaid program. The new waiver, or “Medi-Cal 2020,” is good news for California as it will provide the state with much needed funds to begin the next phase of Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation – equitably improving health care quality and reforming delivery so that it is more targeted and efficient.
The waiver agreement, while a significant achievement, is lower than California’s original request for $17 billion in funding and is almost $1 billion lower than the state’s revised waiver request of $7.25 billion. CMS has granted the state a temporary two-month extension of the current waiver until December 31st while state and federal officials work out the remaining details of the new waiver.
The conceptual agreement includes the following core elements:
Yesterday in Sacramento, Health Affairs (a leading journal of health policy and research), the Blue Shield of California Foundation, and the California HealthCare Foundation hosted an event,The California Medi-Cal Waiver: Perspectives on Promoting Health System Improvement in California. The event highlighted the opportunities presented by the renewal of California’s 1115 Medi-Cal waiver to transform California's health care system so that it is better able to meet the needs of its new enrollees.
Earlier this year, CPEHN’s Sarah de Guia discussed how the waiver offers a great opportunity to promote health equity for Medi-Cal enrollees, a majority from communities of color:
The waiver gives states like California additional flexibility to design and improve their Medicaid program (Medi-Cal in California) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With the waiver, states can expand eligibility, provide additional services not typically covered, and use innovative service delivery systems that improve care, increase efficiency, and reduce costs, otherwise referred to as the “Triple Aim.”
What’s missing from these conversations is a focus on a fourth aim, promoting health equity… Through our participation in the 1115 waiver renewal process, CPEHN is working to bring awareness to the historic inequities in health outcomes that our communities experience, and the need for innovative policy proposals to help reform traditional health care coverage into systems that can provide meaningful access to services for our communities.
Yesterday’s event also included discussion about health equity and how the health care system can better serve California’s diverse communities of color. Here are some highlights:
The latest edition of our Health Equity Forum newsletter hit the virtual shelves today, and it features a lot of information on the most pressing health issues impacting California’s communities of color in 2015.
To start it off, our Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, summarizes the ongoing efforts to renew California’s 1115 Medi-Cal waiver, which has been instrumental in expanding the program in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. Renewing the waiver will help the state focus not just on expanding access to coverage, but implementing strategies to reduce health disparities as well.
We also have an article from B. Darcel Lee, President and CEO of the California Black Health Network (CBHN), one of CPEHN’s founding ethnic partner organizations. She gives a recap of CBHN’s Heroes in Health Gala.