JLAC, Assembly Health Committee Convene Joint Informational Hearing on State Auditor Report on Preventive Health Services for Medi-Cal Children

On Tuesday, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) and the Assembly Health Committee convened an informational hearing related to California State Auditor Elaine Howle’s recent report, “Department of Health Care Services: Millions of Children in Medi-Cal Are Not Receiving Preventive Health Services.” Recall, the audit report, released in March, determined that an average 2.4 million children in Medi-Cal per year did not receive all required preventive health services between FY 2013-14 and FY 2017-18. The report further examined other screening rates, including immunization goals, and options available to DHCS to compel Medi-Cal health plans to meet established performance levels.

Tuesday’s joint JLAC and Assembly Health Committee hearing featured an overview of the report and findings by State Auditor Elaine Howle and a key member of her staff. Ms. Howle detailed key recommendations for consideration by legislators and DHCS around access standards, reimbursement rates, contracting, performance standards, and internal audit procedures.

DHCS Director Jennifer Kent also appeared as a witness in the hearing, providing an overview of DHCS activities undertaken as a result of the Auditor’s findings and other initiatives related to preventive services and screenings as part of the Governor’s proposed budget. Director Kent further detailed key modifications to DHCS practices and procedures in an attempt to increase Medi-Cal preventive service utilization, screening, and health plan compliance. Committee members questioned Director Kent on a broad array of topics, including provider reimbursement rates and incentives, performance metric oversight, and regional disparities in preventive health services access and utilization, and informational technology challenges.

A stakeholder panel rounded out the hearing, featuring representatives from health plans and insurers, health care providers, and patient organizations. The hearing agenda may be accessed here. A recording of the hearing is available here.