CSAC Bulletin Article

DHCS Launches Statewide Media Campaign to Help Californians Maintain Their Medi-Cal Coverage

February 9, 2023

Yesterday, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) launched a statewide public information, education, and outreach campaign to raise awareness about the upcoming return of the Medi-Cal eligibility renewal process for over 15 million Medi-Cal members, and to encourage individuals to take steps to maintain their coverage.

As reported in a prior CSAC Bulletin, the Budget Act of 2022 appropriated $25 million to DHCS to seek a communications and advertising vendor to implement a broad and targeted education and outreach communications campaign for Medi-Cal members during the continuous coverage unwinding.

Background: During the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), the federal government temporarily waived Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program requirements for annual eligibility redeterminations. As a result, Medi-Cal members kept their health coverage continuously during the PHE. In late December 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act that separates the Medicaid continuous coverage requirements from the federal COVID-19 PHE and provides an end date for the Medicaid coverage guarantee on March 31, 2023, setting the stage for the resumption of Medi-Cal redeterminations. Guidance documents related to the PHE unwinding from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are available here.

Campaign activities: According to DHCS, the statewide campaign will run from February 2023 through June 2024 to raise awareness of the renewal process and encourage Medi-Cal members to take necessary steps to keep themselves and their families covered. The campaign will include a range of integrated communications tools designed to reach Medi-Cal members in 19 Medi-Cal threshold languages across both traditional and digital media channels. Medi-Cal members can learn more about the renewal process, including how to update their contact information and receive important updates, at the DHCS webpage KeepMediCalCoverage.org.

County readiness plans: DHCS recently issued notification letters to counties regarding updates to its County Readiness Toolkit via a Medi-Cal Eligibility Division Information Letter (MEDIL) which was updated on January 10 in MEDIL 23-03. MEDIL 23-03 includes a checklist, a county readiness plan template, and a list of recommended strategies for counties to use as they prepare for the end of the COVID-19 PHE and the continuous coverage requirements. DHCS has asked counties to prepare the best course of action to ensure the completion of federal and state mandated application processing and redetermination activities to facilitate a seamless resumption to normal Medi-Cal eligibility business operations. MEDIL 23-03 instructs counties to submit their county readiness plans to DHCS no later than February 21, 2023. Of note, MEDIL 23-03 also specifies that DHCS approval is not required for counties to move forward with their continuous coverage unwinding plans.

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