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No Application Required for CalFresh Participants to Enroll in Medi-Cal

California is now allowing individuals enrolled in CalFresh, the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps), to enroll in Medi-Cal without having to fill out an application. But those who are eligible have to consent to the expedited enrollment, and the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) will only send one letter notifying people of the opportunity – so advocates are busy making sure that families in CalFresh are on the lookout for the letters and know not to discard them.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to enroll a lot of children and parents in a quick and easy way,” says Kristen Golden Testa, the California Health Program director of The Children’s Partnership, a national nonprofit.

Because California opted to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, income eligibility requirements for CalFresh and Medi-Cal are now comparable, so anyone who qualifies for CalFresh is also likely to qualify for Medi-Cal. The federal government has given states the option of using their SNAP data to get both adults and children enrolled in Medicaid if they weren’t already signed up.

DHCS sent letters to over half a million non-elderly adults who are enrolled in CalFresh but not enrolled in Medi-Cal during the first week of February, and is expected to send letters regarding over 150,000 eligible children before the end of this month.

Elizabeth Landsberg, the director of legislative advocacy at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, agrees with Golden Testa, calling the new enrollment option “smart government.” She explains that many non-elderly adults are newly eligible for Medi-Cal because of Medicaid expansion, and though children in CalFresh were eligible for free health coverage even before Medicaid expansion, there are a variety of reasons why such a large number of kids who qualify for Medi-Cal weren’t already enrolled.

“Oftentimes hunger is the more immediate need – for example, if you have a family in which a parent was laid off,” says Landsberg, explaining why a family might prioritize getting enrolled in CalFresh over looking into health care options.

Each letter sent by DHCS includes a PIN number unique to each eligible family member. Individuals can consent to enrollment for themselves or their children in three different ways – by signing and returning the letter, by calling 1-844-212-0003 and giving their PIN, or by visiting the DHCS website and entering their PIN.

Some families enrolled in CalFresh also may not be aware that they are already enrolled in Medi-Cal, says Golden Testa; such families would not receive an expedited enrollment letter, and should contact their county Medi-Cal office to find out if they are already in the program.

If your child is uninsured and enrolled in CalFresh, and you would like to see a copy of the letter you may be sent by DHCS, click here. For more information on this enrollment option, call 1-844-212-0003, or contact your county Medi-Cal office.

Individuals who do not qualify for expedited enrollment can still see if they are eligible for Medi-Cal by visiting www.coveredca.com, calling 1-800-300-1506, or contacting their county Medi-Cal office.

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