By Steven Lalich for Marin Department of Health and Human Services
September 20, 2022
California’s Medi-Cal program has undergone some significant changes in 2022. As partners in advancing your health and well-being, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (MHHS) wants to make sure all current and prospective Medi-Cal members are aware of these important changes.
“Medi-Cal is essential to providing the healthcare needs of many residents in Marin County,” said Kari Beuerman, director of Social Services for MHHS. “The changes in Medi-Cal will enhance healthcare benefits and increase social services for those most in need.” Here are some of the changes.
Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program. This public health insurance program provides free or low-cost medical services for children and adults with limited income and resources. In Marin, 52,379 beneficiaries receive Medi-Cal, roughly 1 in 5 Marin County residents. The process for verifying your Medi-Cal eligibility, from when your completed application is received to when you receive your Benefits Identification Card (BIC), usually takes 45 days.
Effective May 1, 2022, eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal was expanded to include adults who meet Medi-Cal eligibility requirements and are aged 50 or older, regardless of immigration status. This expansion immediately impacts individuals on restricted scope benefits, also known as emergency Medi-Cal. Although a social security number or immigration status may be requested, it is not required to complete the Medi-Cal application. You are eligible for Medi-Cal if you are currently enrolled in CalFresh, SSI/SSP, CalWorks (AFDC), Refugee Assistance, Foster Care, or Adoption Assistance Program.
The Biden Administration finalized a new public charge regulation in September 2022, increasing protections for immigrant families and reducing the harmful impacts introduced by the previous Administration. Under the new regulation, applying for MediCal and Calfresh will not have a negative impact on the ability to obtain legal residency status.
Canal Alliance, a nonprofit organization, offering immigration legal services, education, career programs, and social services to Latino immigrants and their families, has created resources to educate the community about changes to public charge rules that may ease some of the general fears felt in the community towards applying for and receiving Medi-Cal coverage.
Effective July 1, 2022, the asset limit for Medi-Cal increased for the first time since 1991. From 1991 to June 30, 2022, the Medi-Cal asset limit was $2,000 for one person, $3,000 for a couple, and $150 for each additional household member.
Starting July 1, 2022, the asset limit increased dramatically to $130,000 for one person, plus $65,000 for each additional household member.
The current way assets are counted will continue to be used to determine whether an individual meets the $130,000 asset limit. Pending approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), beginning January 1, 2024, the second phase of this new law in California will eliminate the asset limit for all Non-MAGI Medi-Cal programs.
Kari Beuerman added, “The increased asset limits allow a larger number of applicants to become eligible for Medi-Cal benefits and permit qualified beneficiaries to retain a larger amount of non-exempt assets.”
On April 1, 2022, all pregnant persons receiving Medi-Cal will be eligible for 12 months of postpartum care coverage when their pregnancy ends. Before this, Medi-Cal offered 60 days of postpartum coverage for beneficiaries whose pregnancies ended. The postpartum care extension change will promote healthier families in Marin by providing fullscope coverage, including maternal mental health services for 12 continuous months after the pregnancy ends.
BenefitsCal is an online portal where Californians can apply for and manage benefits online. This includes food assistance (CalFresh), formerly food stamps, cash aid (CalWORKs, General Assistance, Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants), and affordable Medi-Cal health insurance.
If you have questions regarding Medi-Cal, please contact the Marin County HHS public assistance call center at (877) 410-8817.