Senate Health and Education Committees Explore Health Coverage and Access for College Students

On Wednesday, the Senate Health Committee and Senate Education Committee held a joint informational hearing on Health Insurance Coverage and Access to Care for College Students. Senator Ben Allen, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, provided opening comments for the hearing, which included aim of the hearing, desire to understand the scope of problem, learn more about the unique needs of the student population, and gain insights to help the committees with policy decisions.

Deborah Kelch, Executive Director for the Insure the Uninsured Project (ITUP), provided members with the landscape of coverage options for students. Her presentation led to discussions around potential gaps in coverage. In particular, Senator Richard Pan raised questions around students with chronic conditions, that may be subject to lifetime limits under their student health insurance and/or whether they are left without access to coverage should their conditions lead to them withdrawing from school.

Jennifer Kent, Director for the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), and Sarah Brooks, Deputy Director for Health Care Delivery Systems within DHCS, shared information around how Medi-Cal rules impact students. For example, many students may qualify for Medi-Cal under the Medicaid expansion, however since managed care plans vary by county, students may be required to either change their plan or return home for care to avoid out-of-network issues. In addition, she walked through how eligibility is processed when a beneficiary moves to another county. Again, the issue of students with chronic conditions was raised, which led to a discussion around the California Children’s Services (CCS) Program. Director Kent noted options a student with a CCS-eligible condition would be provided and how decisions regarding whether to transfer their care to a different jurisdiction is more complex.

The hearing also included perspectives representing the policy and practices of colleges and universities and health plans. For further information, please reference the hearing agenda and recording.