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Estimating the Cost of Expanding Full-Scope Medi-Cal Coverage to Undocumented Adults


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Estimated Cost of Expanding Full-Scope Medi-Cal Coverage to All Otherwise-Eligible Californians Regardless of Immigration Status

May 5, 2021 - This budget and policy post responds to legislative requests for our office to estimate the costs of expanding comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage to all otherwise eligible Californians regardless of their immigration status. We estimate that nearly one million undocumented immigrants would gain full coverage under this expansion. Assuming a January 1, 2022 implementation, we estimate that the additional cost of expansion would be $790 million General Fund ($870 million total funds) in 2021-22. On an ongoing basis, we estimate the additional cost of the expansion would be $2.1 billion General Fund (nearly $2.4 billion total funds). Both our caseload and cost estimates are subject to significant uncertainty and rest on a number of key assumptions. Moreover, our ongoing estimates would be expected to change over time with medical inflation and changes in caseload and utilization.

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[PDF] The 2022-23 Budget: Health Care Access and Affordability

February 23, 2022 - This brief focuses on access to health insurance coverage and the affordability of health care costs. We (1) assess various Governor’s proposals intended to improve health care access and/or affordability—including expanding Medi-Cal eligibility to undocumented residents between ages 26, reducing Medi-Cal premiums to zero cost, establishing the Office of Health Care Affordability, and reducing the cost of insulin through a state partnership; (2) discuss options to improve affordability of health plans purchased through Covered California; and (3) highlight some key access and affordability challenges that remain to address.

Correction (2/24/22): Figure 2 - Number of undocumented residents has been corrected.

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[PDF] The 2019-20 Budget: Analysis of the Medi-Cal Budget

February 13, 2019 - In this report, we describe the major changes and proposals in the Governor's proposed $100.7 billion (all funds) Medi-Cal budget. Specifically, we advise the Legislature to seriously consider renewing the managed care organization tax, despite the Governor not proposing to do so; present issues for consideration related to the Governor's proposed expansion of comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage for young adults regardless of immigration status; and provide an initial assessment of the Governor's proposals to use Proposition 56 funding in Medi-Cal to extend and expand provider payment increases. We recommend approval of the Governor's proposals to improve fiscal oversight of the Medi-Cal budget, and also recommend that the Legislature require the administration provide additional information to the Legislature in an effort to improve fiscal oversight and transparency of this very large, complex budget going forward.

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Model for Health Coverage of Low-Income Families

June 2, 1999 - Roughly two million low-income children and their parents, primarily in working families, do not have health coverage in California. We have developed a “Family Coverage Model” which would result in an additional 0.9 million to 1.4 million persons obtaining health coverage at an annual cost of $188 million to $385 million annually when fully implemented.

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[PDF] The 2014-15 Budget: Analysis of the Health Budget

February 20, 2014 - The report analyzes the Governor's 2014-15 health budget proposals. In it, we (1) provide an analysis of the impact the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)--known as federal health care reform--is having on the Medi-Cal program; (2) analyze the Governor's budget proposal to exempt certain, but not all, classes of Medi-Cal providers and services from retroactive recoupments of payment reductions; and (3) assess the fiscal outlook for the California Health Benefit Exchange, also known as Covered California.

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[PDF] The 2017-18 Budget: Analysis of the Medi-Cal Budget

March 9, 2017 - In California, the federal‑state Medicaid program is administered by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) as the California Medical Assistance Program (Medi‑Cal). Medi‑Cal is by far the largest state‑administered health services program in terms of annual caseload and expenditures. In this report, we provide an analysis of the administration’s caseload projections, including a discussion of the projected increases in ACA optional expansion caseload. We also provide an assessment of several aforementioned major factors affecting projected changes in Medi‑Cal spending in 2017‑18 and other policy changes proposed by the administration. These include the Governor’s proposed uses of Proposition 56 revenues, the proposal to shift additional New Qualified Immigrants (NQIs) to Covered California in 2017‑18, assumptions around federal CHIP funding, and the proposed abolition and transfer of the Major Risk Medical Insurance Fund (MRMIF).

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The 2021-22 Budget: LAO Preliminary Comments on the May Revision Medi-Cal Budget

May 21, 2021 - In this post, we provide our preliminary comments on the Governor’s 2021‑22 May Revision proposal for Medi‑Cal. We first provide an overview of the proposal, noting the major changes made relative to the Governor’s January budget, as well as changes made to estimated 2020‑21 spending relative to the January estimates. We then describe, and provide our comments on, the Governor’s proposal to augment the January proposal for the California Advancing and Innovating Medi‑Cal (CalAIM) package. We follow with descriptions of, and comments on, the Governor’s modified telehealth policy proposal, the proposal to extend full‑scope Medi‑Cal coverage to older undocumented immigrants, and the proposal to use American Rescue Plan Act funding to provide financial relief for designated public hospitals.

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[PDF] The 2013-14 Budget: Examining the State and County Roles in the Medi-Cal Expansion

February 19, 2013 - Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as federal health care reform, the state has the option to expand its Medicaid program (known as Medi-Cal) to cover over one million low-income adults who are currently ineligible. Currently counties have the fiscal and programmatic responsibility for the care of the low-income adult population that would be covered by the expansion. The Governor has proposed to adopt the optional expansion, but has outlined two distinct approaches to implementing the expansion—a state-based approach and a county-based approach—and has not indicated a preference for either approach. Under both approaches, the Governor indicates that the expansion will require a reassessment of the state-local fiscal relationship. We find that the expansion would have significant policy benefits, including improved health outcomes for the newly eligible Medi-Cal population. We estimate that fiscal savings to the state as a whole are likely to outweigh the cost of the expansion for at least a decade, although these estimates are subject to significant uncertainty. Despite the significant uncertainty about long-term costs and savings, on balance, we believe the policy merits of the expansion and fiscal benefits to the state as a whole likely will outweigh the costs and potential fiscal risks. We therefore recommend the state adopt the expansion. We also find that the state is in a better position to effectively deliver health services to the newly eligible population. Therefore, we recommend the Legislature adopt a state-based expansion, shifting the fiscal and programmatic responsibility of providing physical health care to the expansion population from counties to the state. Given this shift of responsibility, we further recommend the Legislature redirect a portion of funding currently allocated to counties under 1991 realignment for indigent health care.

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[PDF] Letter to Honorable Bill Monning on Estimated Costs Related to Certain ACA Provisions

May 1, 2013 - Letter to Honorable Bill Monning, Chair, Senate Subcommittee No. 3 on Health and Human Services, regarding the estimated costs related to provisions of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will likely result in additional Medi-Cal enrollment from persons who are currently eligible for the program, but not enrolled.

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The 2020-21 May Revision: Recommend Reduction to Medi-Cal Caseload Costs

May 22, 2020 - This post provides our analysis of the Governor’s May Revision projections related to Medi-Cal caseload. The May Revision assumes significant General Fund cost increases related to projected increases in Medi-Cal caseload due to the deteriorating economic environment caused by the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19). As we describe below, we find that the administration’s assumed caseload costs in Medi-Cal are likely significantly overstated and recommend a downward reduction to the Medi-Cal budget of $750 million General Fund across 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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Better Care Reduces Health Care Costs for Aged and Disabled Persons

February 18, 2004 - We describe the current Medi-Cal health care delivery system and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses in regard to addressing the health care needs of the aged and disabled. We identify additional aged and disabled persons that would benefit from receiving care from managed care plans. We recommend the enactment of legislation directing the Department of Health Services (DHS) to gradually shift an estimated 330,000 aged or disabled persons from the fee-for-service system to the Medi-Cal managed care system. We further recommend strengthening the existing Medi-Cal managed care system to address problems that limit the ability of DHS to ensure access to services and quality of care.

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The 2019-20 Budget: California Spending Plan—Health and Human Services

October 17, 2019 - From the General Fund, the 2019-20 spending plan provides $26.4 billion for health programs and $15.5 billion for human services programs—an increase of 18 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively, over estimated 2018-19 General Fund spending in these two policy areas. Major health-related policy actions include the reauthorization of a tax on managed care organizations (which will reduce the above-noted General Fund health spending by $1 billion, pending federal approval) and over $400 million General Fund for state-funded subsidies for health insurance purchased on the individual market through Covered California. Major human services-related policy actions include General Fund support to increase CalWORKS cash grants and most developmental services provider rates, and to restore previously reduced service hours in the In-Home Supportive Services program. The spending plan also reflects the deposit of $700 million into a safety net reserve (bringing its balance to $900 million) that can be used for future CalWORKs and/or Medi-Cal expenditures.

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[PDF] The 2016-17 Budget: Analysis of the Medi-Cal Budget

February 11, 2016 - In this report, we provide an analysis of the administration’s caseload projections, as well as a discussion of the impacts of the ACA on the ability to project caseload. We also provide an assessment of several General Fund cost pressures on the horizon in Medi–Cal, including the sunset of the hospital QAF.

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[PDF] The 2021-22 Budget: Medi-Cal Fiscal Outlook

November 18, 2020 - Medi‑Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, provides health care coverage to about 13 million of the state’s low‑income residents. Medi‑Cal costs generally are shared between the federal and state governments. In a typical year, the General Fund covers a little more than 20 percent of total Medi‑Cal costs, with federal funds and other state and local funds respectively covering the remaining 65 percent and 15 percent of total costs. In this web post, we describe the major factors that we expect to drive changes in General Fund spending in Medi‑Cal over the near term—in 2020‑21 and 2021‑22—and over the longer term through 2024‑25. We also describe a number of key assumptions that we made in our spending projections.