A new enrollment campaign launched last week to help newly eligible Californians sign up for Medi-Cal.
The enrollment-assistance plan, called CaliforniaHealth+, is a major effort of the California Primary Care Association. It directs people to newly established help desks at community health centers across the state.
It's designed to publicize the benefits of Medi-Cal expansion for the estimated 3.9 million Californians who are either newly eligible or are currently eligible but not enrolled. In addition, the centers will direct eligible people to the state's health benefit exchange, Covered California.
But the main focus of the CaliforniaHealth+ campaign is the Medi-Cal expansion population, according to Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and CEO of CPCA.
"The Medi-Cal expansion population is a priority for community health centers," Castellano-Garcia said. "We have branded the community health centers as CaliforniaHealth+ and it's a way to find a community health center to help with enrollment."
CPCA represents more than 900 not-for-profit community health centers and clinics. The organization's widespread network could be a powerful force to reach that Medi-Cal expansion population, she said.
"About 1.3 million of our current patients will be eligible for coverage in the exchange or the Medi-Cal expansion," Castellano-Garcia said.
In particular, the community clinics could help the large and often difficult-to-reach Latino population, she said.
The CaliforniaHealth+ effort is financed by the California Endowment, which committed $26.5 million for outreach efforts around the Medi-Cal expansion. That money was given to the state so it could be matched with federal dollars, bringing the overall outreach funding budget to more than $50 million.
CPCA is the only provider group with an outreach grant from Covered California, Castellano-Garcia said. Community clinics care for low-income and uninsured patients, so they are uniquely positioned to enroll a range of people within those eligible populations, she said.
The "plus" in CaliforniaHealth+ refers to many services available among the essential health benefits of the exchange and multiple services of Medi-Cal, Castellano-Garcia said. The plus means "patients will be provided with a broader range of services, such as dental or optometry," she said. "And some community clinics have specialty care onsite, as well."