News Story (California)
Kaiser Health News (KHN)
January 23, 2015
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Tags: Health Care, Public Benefits
Organizations mentioned/involved: Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA), Bay Area Legal Aid (San Francisco)
Medi-Cal applicants who have been waiting for more than 45 days can receive temporary health benefits while officials determine eligibility for the public insurance program, a state Superior Court judge ruled this week.
The decision came in a lawsuit filed in September alleging that a large backlog of applications to California’s Medicaid program left hundreds of thousands of people unable to access health care.
“The ruling is absolutely vital in ensuring benefits for everyone who is entitled to them,” said Cori Racela, an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County. “They may have medical needs while they are waiting for their application to be processed.”
The suit, which was filed in Alameda County Superior Court by a coalition of health advocates and legal services groups, cited delays in enrolling pregnant women, children and adults with life-threatening conditions.
Advocates said many either had to postpone treatment or pay cash to see doctors.
In one case cited in the suit, a man died of a pulmonary embolism while awaiting the outcome of his Medi-Cal application. His approval notice didn’t arrive until two months after his death.
(Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit national health policy news service.)