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Advocates Call for Suspension of California Duals Demonstration

OAKLAND, CA – Six advocacy organizations, including the National Senior Citizens Law Center, “urgently requested” suspension of the state’s dual demonstration program – the Coordinated Care Initiative — in a February 21 letter addressed to both federal and state officials.

The letter says that many key aspects of the CCI are not ready, including systems such as unprepared call centers and inadequate notices to consumers.

“We are very concerned that this lack of readiness will hurt dual eligible individuals, many who are very old and could lose important health care services or find their care disrupted,” said NSCLC Executive Director Kevin Prindiville.

Dual eligibles in the counties where the CCI is scheduled to operate will be passively enrolled, meaning they must opt out if they don’t want to be in a managed care plan. The state wishes to automatically move as many as 456,000 people who have both Medicare and Medi-Cal into managed care plans starting April 1.

The letter was sent to both the Department of Health Care Services (DCHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Both agencies promised that enrollment would not proceed unless systems were ready,” the letter states. “Those promises need to be kept. To protect beneficiaries, prevent confusion and comply with statutory requirements, a postponement is necessary.”

The letter describes several reasons for the requested postponement such as the fact that many required notices have not been finalized.  Finalized notices are inadequate and confusing, are not accessible, have not been translated, and do not meet readability standards.

According to the letter, the broker tasked with processing enrollments is not ready and the state’s Health Insurance Counseling Programs (HICAPs) have not received the funding they need to train staff and counsel consumers.

The other five organizations that signed the letter are: California Health Advocates, Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, National Health Law Program, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, we seek to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and access to the courts for all.

Contact: Vanessa Barrington
510-256-1200 direct

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