COVID-19 UNINSURED GROUP PROGRAM: The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is clarifying that coverage for this group expires on May 31 — the last day of the month in which the COVID-19 public health emergency ends — not May 11. California has taken advantage of the “optional COVID-19 group,” which provides uninsured and underinsured individuals with Medi-Cal coverage for COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatment at no cost to the individual through the COVID-19 Uninsured Group Program. Beginning March 20, DHCS will send the individuals in this group a sunset notice in their preferred language with a copy of the “Application for Health Insurance” and a “Notice of Language Services.”
MEDI-CAL AND CALFRESH: Medi-Cal continuous coverage will end on March 31 and California must restart eligibility renewals beginning April 1. Beneficiaries are encouraged to provide updated contact information so they can be contacted with details about keeping their Medi-Cal benefits. The Department of Health Care Services has developed a toolkit with more information. Medi-Cal beneficiaries in Imperial County can also go directly to BenefitsCal to apply or update their contact information. In addition, the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency has a Community Partner Resource Toolkit with and “have you moved” flyers in five languages and local options to update contact information. San Diego Medi-Cal and CalFresh beneficiaries have the following three local options:
- Call: (866) 262-9881 TDD 711
- Online: www.mybenefitscalwin.org
- Mail: PO Box 939043 San Diego, CA 92193-9043
FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Nurse Education, Practice, Quality and Retention – Pathway to Registered Nurse Program will create a pathway from academic training to clinical practice. This would be accomplished through the creation and implementation of licensed practical nurse/licensed vocational nurse to registered nurse bridge programs and employment of clinical nurse faculty. HRSA will award approximately $8.9 million to up to eight cooperative agreements over a period of four years. Eligible applicants are accredited schools of nursing; nursing schools and hospitals should apply together as clinical partners. Applications are due April 27.
HEALTH PLANS: The California Hospital Association has sent a letter to Mark Ghaly, MD, secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, asking him to direct the state’s health plan regulators to take action to address health plans’ unfair payment practices. The letter describes the deteriorating performance of health plans in paying their bills on time and how this is endangering hospitals’ viability in a time of unprecedented financial challenges.
COVID-19 HEALTH ORDERS, GUIDANCE: The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced updates to several state public health officer orders and other guidance, including those related to COVID-19 vaccination, masking, isolation, and quarantine. The following updates take effect on April 3:
- Masking in High-Risk and Health Care Settings. Masks will no longer be required in indoor high-risk and health care settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other environments. CDPH also noted that high-risk settings should make respirators (e.g., N95s, KN95s, KF94s) with good fit or surgical masks available to any residents and staff who would like to use them. However, it is important to remember that in workplaces, employers and employees continue to be subject to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations or the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard and should consult those regulations for applicable requirements.
- Vaccine Requirements for Health Care Workers. The state will no longer require vaccination for health care workers, including those in hospitals and other direct care facilities. However, federal rules regarding vaccination are still in place.
- Hospital Surge Order. CDPH will rescind an order that required hospitals statewide to accept transfer patients from facilities with limited ICU capacity as needed.