Millions of California Residents at Risk of Losing Health Care Due to Paperwork Errors

By: Lauren | Published: May 25, 2024

California has always taken pride in its healthcare system, Medi-Cal, as it is widely considered to be one of the best in the country.

However, millions of California residents are being denied their rightful care simply because of paperwork errors, and many healthcare advocates are fighting for something to be done.

The US Government Ends Continuous Enrollment

After the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected almost every facet of America, including the healthcare system, the US federal government decided to end continuous enrollment for Medicaid.

A women having a coffee while filling out application paperwork

Source: Freepik

That decision meant that millions of Americans utilizing the Medicaid program would be forced to reapply for care. Which has led to several procedural issues, including many losing their healthcare coverage.


1.6 Million California Residents Lost Healthcare Coverage

As the most populated state in the country, California saw the most residents struggle with a lack of healthcare after the federal government’s controversial decision.

An envelope sitting on a wooden table that has a red “past due” stamp on the front

Source: iStock

In fact, more than 1.6 million Californians are currently living without healthcare because they either didn’t realize their coverage had expired, missed the renewal paperwork, or simply filled out the application incorrectly.

Many Californias Were Likely Confused by the Process

While filling out paperwork may seem easy enough, those who have completed government forms before understand just how tedious and puzzling they can be.

A woman clearly looks frustrated while holding up paperwork

Source: Freepik

Alex Beene, a financial literacy instructor for the state of Tennessee, told Newsweek, “While filling out information on a form for coverage may sound like a given, the issue was that this was the first time many had to formally go through the process since the pandemic, and undoubtedly quite a few were confused by some questions asked or just negated to complete the paperwork altogether.”

More Than Half of Californians Losing Healthcare Coverage Are Latinos

The executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, Seciah Aquino, reported that more than half of the 1.6 million California residents who lost their healthcare coverage this year were members of the Latino community.

Several members of the Latino Community Foundation in California pose for a photo

Source: @Latino Community Foundation/Facebook

Aquino said in a statement, “The health of Latinos is in a fragile state: our community is still facing acute cases of COVID-19, long-COVID and the socio-economic repercussions of the pandemic. This means that now more than ever, Medi-Cal coverage is essential to our well-being.”

The Loss of Healthcare Affects California’s Children

In addition to the Latino community, the loss of healthcare due to clerical errors also gravely affects California’s children. Co-sponsor of the bill and president of the Children’s Partnership, Mayra E. Alvarez, explained that millions of children will suffer without healthcare coverage, even for a short period of time.

A mother holds her sick daughter at the doctor’s office

Source: Freepik

Alvarez explained, “Even relatively short gaps in Medi-Cal coverage can mean the difference between getting the timely early developmental intervention that growing children and their families need to lead healthy lives and falling dangerously behind in healthy childhood development.”


Families and People of Color in California Deserve Their Medi-Cal Coverage

Alvarez continued, “Putting families’ coverage in jeopardy, especially our Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities that are more likely to rely on Medi-Cal for coverage, exacerbates existing racial disparities and undermines Californians’ investments in coverage for all.”

A man holds his son on his shoulders on the beach

Source: Freepik

To combat this frustrating reality and protect Californian all residents, including children and those of color, from losing their healthcare coverage for essentially no reason, several state assembly members got together and introduced a new bill.


California Assembly Member Presents Bill to Protect Residents

The bill, called the Protecting Medi-Cal Coverage for Californians Act (AB 2956), “would allow adults enrolled in Medi-Cal to keep their coverage for a full 12 months and make the federal pandemic-era flexibilities permanent.”

A patient shakes the hand of his doctor during an appointment

Source: Freepik

Essentially, it would ensure that the 1.6 million people without coverage right now got their healthcare back immediately and had another year to successfully reapply before the Medi-Cal care was taken away.


The Assembly Appropriations Committee Put a Hold on the Bill

But unfortunately, the Assembly Appropriations Committee put the bill on hold this week and has yet to tell the public why it decided to do so.

The California State Capitol building in Sacramento

Source: Wikipedia

However, those who proposed the bill and many other members of the California healthcare community have expressed their disappointment.


Stopping the Bill Was “Unconscionable”

Assemblymember Boerner told the press, “I am disappointed that AB 2956, a bill that would have helped many Californians retain health coverage, did not get the necessary approval to move forward.”

Close-up photograph of a Medicaid insurance card

Source: iStock

She continued, “It is unconscionable to think that over a million people each year are not able to get the care that they need due to something as simple as missing a single piece of paper.”


Healthcare Providers Are Working Tirelessly to Help Ensure Californians Get the Healthcare They Deserve

A promotional photograph from the Ventura County Human Services Agency’s Facebook, which promotes help for Medi-Cal renewal

Source: @Ventura County Human Services Agency/Facebook

Boerner and several other healthcare institutions throughout the state are making it their mission to ensure all California residents get the Medi-Cal care they deserve.


California Residents Should Reach Out for Help With Medi-Cal Forms as Soon as Possible

While Boerner and others are still working to get the committee to pass the bill, various agencies are offering assistance to California residents who need help filling out the complicated government forms.

A businesswoman looking through a very large stack of paperwork

Source: Freepik

Alex Beene said, “Californians who need coverage need to seek out assistance this year in making sure they correctly complete all forms associated with Medi-Cal. If they need the coverage, they don’t want to be left out for a second year in a row.”