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Medi-Cal Patients’ Access and Continuity of Care Threatened

By California Chronic Care Coalition

August 12, 2021

On April 13, 2021, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) released a new policy, which would reduce the number of Medi-Cal managed care plans in Sacramento and San Diego Counties down to only two. Currently, Sacramento County has five managed care plans and San Diego County has seven. Providing affordable, patient-centered care is the most effective way to treat Californians with chronic conditions and improve care management. The California Department of Health Care services new policy could have a detrimental effect on the health of Californians living with chronic conditions – threatening continuity of care and access to physicians. 

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the multiple more transmittable variants, stability within health care is paramount. Reducing the number of health care plans available to California’s Medi-Cal population unnecessarily restricts access to care and disrupts continuity of care for those struggling with chronic disease. As many of these patients have compromised immune systems and live in underserved communities, DHCS and local elected officials need to prioritize all Medi-Cal patients’ ability to keep their doctors and services provided by their managed care plan provider of choice. 

There are more than 1 million patients between Sacramento and San Diego that are enrolled in Medi-Cal, and another potential 1.5 million who are also eligible. Instead of reducing the number of managed care plans enrolling these eligible beneficiaries, DHCS should be increasing resources to the many plans doing this important work. Not to mention, reducing the number of plans offered in the counties removes significant competition – potentially raising costs for the state and removing an important incentive for all managed care to attract members through providing the best care.