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


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

May 10, 2018 - This post responds to several requests for our office to estimate the cost of providing full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented adults over the age of 19 who are currently eligible for restricted-scope Medi-Cal coverage (that is, primarily emergency and pregnancy-related services). Based on a number of key assumptions, we estimate the total net state cost of this coverage expansion is approximately $3 billion in 2018-19. This net cost would be fully a state cost, and represents the change between the cost of providing full-scope Medi-Cal and the costs of providing restricted-scope Medi-Cal to the undocumented adult population.

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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 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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[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 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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The 2015-16 Budget: Analysis of the Health Budget

February 12, 2015 - This report analyzes the Governor's 2015-16 state health program budget proposals. In the report, we review trends in the major health programs since 2007-08 (the last budget developed before the most recent recession), analyze the Governor's proposed restructuring of the managed care organization (MCO) tax, and describe the uncertainty regarding continued federal funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The report also includes an analysis of the Department of State Hospitals budget and an analysis of the Governor's proposals to improve quality and increase staffing for the Licensing and Certification (L&C) Program administered by the Department of Public Health.

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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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[PDF] The LAO’s Economic and Budget Projections

November 19, 1998 - In striking contrast to the past two years, when strong revenues provided funds for both tax relief and significant spending increases in education and other program areas, our projections indicate that 1999-00 will be a difficult year.

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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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The 2010-11 Budget: How the Special Session Actions Would Affect Health Programs

January 22, 2010 - The Governor’s various proposed actions to obtain savings in the current and budget years through actions in the special session have significant implications for the state’s health services programs. In this report, we (1) discuss some of the key overriding issues relating to the Governor’s plan, (2) summarize the Governor’s health budget proposals, and (3) provide our initial comments on a number of the major proposals in each specific program area. We note that we are still receiving information about these proposals from the administration that may prompt us to modify our recommendations. (Revised: 1/24/2010)

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[PDF] The 2013-14 Budget: Analysis of the Health and Human Services Budget

February 27, 2013 - The Governor's budget proposes $28.3 billion in expenditures from the General Fund for health and human services programs in 2013-14. This reflects a 3.4 percent increase for health programs and a 7.9 percent increase for human services programs over 2012-13 estimated expenditures. For the most part, the year-over-year budget changes reflect caseload changes, technical budget adjustments, and the implementation of previously enacted policy changes, as opposed to new policy proposals. In the report, we find that the budget does not reflect the fiscal impact of the proposed Medi-Cal expansion, nor does it reflect potential costs and savings related to various other provisions of federal health care reform. We find that the Governor's Medi-Cal budget proposal assumes General Fund savings that are subject to significant uncertainty. We also provide a status update on the transition of the Healthy Families Program enrollees to Medi-Cal, finding that the transition is generally proceeding as planned, with some delays. We discuss problems in the operation of the state's Developmental Centers (DCs) by the Department of Developmental Services, and recommend that oversight of the DCs be strengthened by the creation of an independent Office of the Inspector General. We discuss the recent major program changes to the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) that are reflected in the budget, and recommend that the Legislature augment CalWORKs employment services funding--a Governor's budget proposal--to a level of funding it deems appropriate in light of its priorities for the program. We raise various fiscal and policy concerns about the Governor's budget assumption that a 20 percent across-the-board reduction in In-Home Supportive Services service hours will be implemented beginning on November 1, 2013. In light of these concerns, we recommend that the Legislature repeal the 20 percent reduction and instead continue a 3.6 percent across-the-board reduction that would otherwise sunset at the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year.

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The 2016-17 Budget: California's Fiscal Outlook

November 18, 2015 - California's state budget is better prepared for an economic downturn than it has been at any point in decades. Under the main economic scenario in this year's LAO Fiscal Outlook, 2016-17 would end with reserves of $11.5 billion, assuming the state makes no new budget commitments through next year. If the economy continues to grow through 2019-20, annual operating surpluses and larger reserves could materialize, and there may be capacity for some new budget commitments—whether spending increases or tax reductions. An economic or stock market downturn, however, could occur during our outlook period. To illustrate this economic uncertainty, we provide projections under alternative scenarios such as a hypothetical recession that causes budget deficits to re-emerge. The more new budget commitments are made in 2016-17, the more likely it is that the state would face difficult choices—such as spending cuts and tax increases—later.

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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.