California Medicaid Backlog a National Embarrassment
Many States Leave Poor Patients Waiting
(Washington, D.C.) – The State of California has at last released a plan to reduce the number of MediCal applicants waiting to have their applications considered. In March, the waiting list for the state's Medicaid program reached 900,000, and it remained at that level through May. This week the state announced the backlog is at a level of approximately 600,000, and outlined a plan to reduce the backlog to "only" 350,000 by September. If and when that level is reached – according to state officials – the wait list will be composed primarily of people who had submitted applications within the previous 45 days. State officials say that this awful service for poor families – many of them Latino – is due to higher than expected enrollment under the new health care law, and a lack of resources to review applications.
California is one of a number of states identified by the Department of Health and Human Services as having lagged badly in processing Medicaid applications. A June survey determined that nearly 2 million Americans were still waiting in state backlogs, unable to access care and unsure when the government would provide them answers. For these millions of low-income families, the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion has so far failed to provide them with the health care they were promised.
Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative, released the following statement:
"Millions of low-income Americans are finding out that the mere act of passing a law has not helped them get quality, affordable health care. If insurance in the private market were affordable, they could buy coverage and seek care in a matter of days. Instead many are waiting months for government bureaucrats to get around to their requests. In California, the system has been a disaster. And even after these families have their cases approved, they are flooding into an overburdened system which is hemorrhaging doctors. Many will see that care is hard to find.
The health care law may have been well-intentioned, but it is simply not working. The president forced this unpopular program on a nation that opposed it – and still opposes it. Rather than the continual pat on the back, the president should recognize the shortcomings of the law and work to fix them. It is incumbent on him to take the lead on reforming the reform."