Senate, Assembly Health Committees Hold Joint Informational Hearing on Access to Care and Children’s Preventive Services

On Monday, the Senate and Assembly Health Committees held a joint informational hearing related to 1) access to care in the Regional Model counties, and 2) children’s preventive services in Medi-Cal.

State Auditor Elaine Howle presented findings and recommendations of the recently released audit report, which determined that Regional Model health plans have not provided all Medi-Cal beneficiaries with adequate access to care and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) has not adequately conducted oversight activities of the health plans. DHCS Acting Director Richard Figueroa and Chief Deputy Director Mari Cantwell responded to the audit report and indicated their Department’s progress in responding to the audit’s findings and recommendations, including on topics such as alternative access standards, access and quality monitoring, and the upcoming request for proposal (RFP) process for Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans. DHCS reiterated their work toward strengthening oversight and working closely with health plans and county stakeholders, including CSAC and CHEAC.

Stakeholders from Anthem Blue Cross, California Health & Wellness, and Partnership Health Plan were featured on a panel to discuss their roles in ensuring access to care, implementing community-based initiatives, and conducting activities to improve access and quality to care among Medi-Cal beneficiaries in Regional Model counties. Dr. Andy Miller, Butte County Health Officer, also appeared to provide insight related to access to care issues experienced by beneficiaries in Butte County and surrounding jurisdictions and to express interest in working with DHCS to potentially move to a different Medi-Cal Managed Care model.

The second component of the informational hearing featured Children’s Preventive Health Services and the six-month auditee implementation progress report. Recall, State Auditor Howle in March released the audit report finding that an average of 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 Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) and the Assembly Health Committee previously held an informational hearing in late April on the report, and Monday’s hearing was centered on the implementation progress of the report’s recommendations.

Similarly, DHCS Acting Director Richard Figueroa and Chief Deputy Director Mari Cantwell discussed activities and policies implemented since the report, as well as ongoing and future activities to ensure child preventive health screenings, including Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) and adverse childhood experience (ACE) screenings.

Representatives from Central California Alliance for Health and Children Now appeared to provide insight on progress made since the report, as well as challenges for future consideration. Public comment largely featured stakeholders from various health access, public health, healthcare delivery, and children’s advocacy entities.

Video footage of the hearing is available here. The full agenda is available here.