Addressing the Impact of COVID-19: Key Policy Changes in California’s Benefit Programs

During this difficult and unsettling time, we know that government agencies and organizations are working around the clock, not only to serve the ever-increasing number of people turning to them for help, but also to keep up with the myriad and rapid changes being made at the federal and state levels to critical safety-net programs. Alluma has been tracking how application and enrollment rules have been changing or relaxing for large statewide programs like Medi-Cal and CalFresh. 

We hope you can use this information to quickly understand key changes at the state and county level, and to identify which policy changes can serve as examples for expanding your own efforts. By taking full advantage of the flexibilities made available to state and federal programs, we can improve and streamline access, across the state, to the services and support that are essential to protect vulnerable Californians.

Of course, when it comes to implementing these changes, the devil is in the details. In the coming days we will be providing recommendations and simple tips for how best to apply these improvements, so that agencies and organizations can maximize the support they give to the millions who are in such desperate need. We know your top priority is to get people connected, and Alluma is committed to sharing our expertise and experience in breaking down the barriers to help.

Questions, comments, or ideas? We’re here to partner with you, let us know how we can help at connect@alluma.org.

Key Policy Changes to California’s Benefit Programs for Eligibility and Enrollment

Click here to view as a PDF.

Eligibility & Enrollment Topic Policy Change Programs Impacted Legal Authority
Remote access and services Provide as many eligibility and enrollment services/ as possible during the public health emergency via virtual means (telephone calls, video calls, texting, etc.) to ensure operations continue while protecting the health of government workers and those seeking assistance Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKs, CAPI, IHHS, State Fair Hearings, Tribal TANF and Child Welfare March 18 CA Governor’s Executive Order

Medi-Cal Guidance for Exceptions due to Public Health Crisis (January 9, 2020)

CalFresh/CalWORKs Guidance (March 13, 2020)

State Fair Hearings (March 13, 2020)

Tribal TANF Guidance (March 16, 2020)

Child Welfare & Probation Guidance (March 21, 2020)

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS March 24 Guidance)
Allow enrollment to be done online or by phone Provide options to apply online, by phone, or mail (rather than in-person or fax) Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKs Medi-Cal Guidance for Exceptions due to Public Health Crisis (January 9, 2020)

CalFresh/CalWORKs Guidance (March 13, 2020)
Redeterminations Suspend redeterminations for 90 days Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKs, CAPI, IHHS March 18 CA Governor’s Executive Order

Medi-Cal Guidance (March 16, 2020)
Suspend disenrollments for procedural reasons No termination of Medi-Cal benefits for failure to provide documents; benefits terminated for that reason must be reinstated Medi-Cal Medi-Cal Guidance for Exceptions due to Public Health Crisis (January 9, 2020)
Waive payment of premiums Medi-Cal premiums waived during public health emergency Medi-Cal Medi-Cal Guidance for Exceptions due to Public Health Crisis (January 9, 2020)
Waive Share of Cost (SOC) Waive SOC for testing or treatment of COVID-19 Medi-Cal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201

Medi-Cal Guidance (March 5, 2020)

CA Department of Managed Health Care All Plan Letter (March 5, 2020)
Self-Attestation Accept self-attestation for verification of eligibility criteria; use electronic data sources as much as possible Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKs Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201

Medi-Cal Guidance (March 5, 2020)

CA Department of Managed Health Care All Plan Letter (March 5, 2020)
Documentation of Eligibility Maximize use of existing databases for verification
Good Faith efforts/extend time Extend time allowed to submit documentation
Reporting change in income Allow flexibility in how changes to anticipated/future income are reported and verified
Special enrollment period Allow mid-year enrollment for tax subsidy due to change in income Covered California Covered CA Fact Sheet
Time limits Benefits received during emergency period do not count towards 5-year time limit CalWORKs CalFresh/CalWORKs Guidance (March 13, 2020)

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