California officials say they’re pleased to see 1.9 million have signed up under the Medi-Cal expansion.
“1.9 million is far more than we ever projected, and there are even more that we’re working to get on as quickly as possible," says Director of the California Department of Health Care Services Toby Douglas.
He says the state now has work to do.
“And the challenge is now on all of us to make sure that we’re getting everyone access to care," he says.
Consumer advocates say even before the surge in new enrollees, Medi-Cal patients had problems seeing providers, partly because of low doctor reimbursement rates.
Anthony Wright of Health Access says despite that, most Medi-Cal cardholders have reported being happy with their care. But Wright wants the state to be vigilant in making sure Medi-Cal health plans meet access standards.
“The requirement is not that every patient gets to see every doctor, but that every patient gets to see a doctor that they need, the place that they need, within the time that they need it," says Wright.
Most Medi-Cal patients can expect to see a primary care physician within 10 miles or 30 minutes of their homes. Patients should be able to make an appointment within 2 to 4 days for urgent health problems and 10 days for a non-urgent meeting with a family doctor.
Health Access say Medi-Cal patients who have problems getting care, should contact their health plan, or the state agency that regulates it.
State law requires health plans to provide timely access to care, which means there are limits to appointments and telephone wait times. Read more here.