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Advocates Want State to Delay Health Transition for Elderly and Disabled

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Next month, a federal pilot program aimed at improving care for the most vulnerable is set to start rolling out in some California counties.

Cal MediConnect is supposed to help seniors and disabled people in seven California counties get better coordinated health services — from in-home caregivers to physicians. Those who are affected will automatically be rolled into the program. They have the opportunity, though, to make choices about where and how they will get their care.

But some advocates say information about making those choices has been unclear and is coming too late.

With four counties set to roll out the program in April and May, they are calling on the state to put the program on hold.

“We sent (the state) a letter with five other organizations saying there should be a delay,” said Amber Cutler, a staff attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center. “They are always putting out fires (with this) and have no time to prepare to prevent problems. That is particularly troublesome when thinking about adding Los Angeles and Alameda in July. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people who will be affected.” Continue reading

New Health Plan for the Poor and Elderly Raises Questions

Christina Kahn, manager of the San Mateo Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program, returns phone calls to local seniors.

Christina Kahn, manager of the San Mateo Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program, returns phone calls to local seniors. (April Dembosky/KQED)

A new experiment in managing the health of older Californians is causing a lot of confusion among seniors. Letters have been hitting mailboxes around the state this week with information about the changes. It’s the second letter in a series of three — the first went out in January — and they have been inspiring a lot of calls to county health insurance counseling centers.

“Why do they keep doing this to us old people?” asks a woman named Andrea, a 72-year-old resident of San Carlos. She called San Mateo County’s counseling office when she received her first letter, telling her she was going to be automatically enrolled in a new health plan — one she’d never heard of and never intended to sign up for.

“We get used to one thing and now we have to do something else?” she said. “I’ve gotta call quick. Otherwise I’ll get something, and maybe I don’t want that.”

Christina Kahn, manager of the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program of San Mateo County, has been returning phone calls like Andrea’s to explain. Continue reading