Paperwork for paperwork’s sake…

Big front-page story in the San Francisco Chronicle by Tom Chorneau today on one of the proposed budget cuts in health care.

It’s not every day there’s a front-page story on “quarterly status reports,” but the article does a good job of explaining the real impact of the cut, and has engendered many interesting reader comments. (My wife, a frequent sfgate.com reader, noted that the posts are more supportive of our consumer advocacy position against the cut than the normal commentary.)

Instead of making a direct cut to eligibility, the Schwarzenegger Administration proposes to impose more paperwork on both children and adults with Medi-Cal coverage, by having them have to verify their address and income every three months.

You might wonder: how does more paperwork save money? It doesn’t. It costs money. But what it does do it mean that a percentage of those with Medi-Cal will fall off coverage as a result. Having over 100,000 Californians lose coverage yields the sought-after budget savings, of over $92 million.

The Administration will admit that many of the people that fall off coverage will still be eligible. But if the paperwork falls through the cracks, if they get confused, if they don’t fill out the paperwork and mail it back in 30 days, they lose Medi-Cal coverage.

It’s insidious. So much of our efforts in the past few years (and in various health reforms, both those passed and proposed) was to make health coverage more automatic, more streamlined, and less bureacratic. This goes in exactly the wrong direction.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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