Children Now Issues Brief on Medi-Cal Children’s Preventive Services

This week, the Children Now’s Health Team released a report entitled, “Accountability for Medi-Cal Children’s Preventive Services: Medi-Cal Health Plans are Key to Improving Preventive Care for Kids,” examining the role of Medi-Cal managed care in ensuring optimal health among California children. Children Now assessed the utilization of various preventive health services, including lead screening, well-child and well-care visits, and dental fluoride varnish.

According to the report, recent troubling trends in children’s utilization of preventive care highlight the urgent need for action from the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to hold contracted Medi-Cal managed care plans accountable to ensure California’s children and youth access to these services that promote overall well-being.

Children Now utilized data from DHCS to rank Medi-Cal managed care plans on their 2019 performance of providing preventive care to children, determining that none of the state’s 56 Medi-Cal health plan reporting units qualify as “high performing,” largely due to a history of poor oversight and accountability on behalf of the state.

Of note, the utilization of preventive services was far lower for children of color in addition to those living in households speaking a primary language other than English, highlighting racial gaps in access to care.

The Children Now’s Health Team identifies a series of short- and long-term strategies available to DHCS to improve children’s preventive care. Namely, Children Now urges DHCS to strengthen existing quality improvement requirements on health plans, promote member education activities on child health preventive services, elevate promising practices among higher ranking health plans, and establish health plan benchmarks and minimum quality standards for all preventive services.

For more information, please read thefull issue brief here.