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Action Required: Medi-Cal Renewal Process Is Underway Across California

Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal should keep an eye out for a yellow envelope in their mailbox over the next 14 months. The Medi-Cal eligibility of over 15.4 million Golden State residents is under review for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

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If a Medi-Cal beneficiary does receive the yellow envelope, they must provide their current contact information to health care officials as soon as possible to retain their Medi-Cal coverage, noted California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Assistant Deputy Director Yingjia Huang.
If a Medi-Cal beneficiary does receive the yellow envelope, they must provide their current contact information to health care officials as soon as possible to retain their Medi-Cal coverage, noted California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Assistant Deputy Director Yingjia Huang.

McKenzie Jackson
California Black Media

Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal should keep an eye out for a yellow envelope in their mailbox over the next 14 months.

The Medi-Cal eligibility of over 15.4 million Golden State residents is under review for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

If a Medi-Cal beneficiary does receive the yellow envelope, they must provide their current contact information to health care officials as soon as possible to retain their Medi-Cal coverage, noted California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Assistant Deputy Director Yingjia Huang.

“It is critical that they do it by the due date that is on the packet that will come,” she said. “If that is not completed by the due date, there is a possibility that you will lose your coverage from Medi-Cal.”

Huang was one of several speakers featured during an April 12 online media briefing held to notify Medi-Cal members of the health coverage eligibility check, which began on April 1. The media teleconference was organized by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services in partnership with DHCS.

Medi-Cal is California’s version of Medicaid, the federal government-funded health insurance program. Administered in conjunction with states, Medicaid is designed for people with limited incomes. The insurance covers services such as dental care, prescriptions, and medical and preventive care.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, enacted in 2020, directed Medicaid programs nationally to keep everyone enrolled during the pandemic. The annual redetermination process was suspended due to the severity of the worldwide health emergency. However, federal agencies declared the emergency over last month. So now, 80 million Americans are in the process of having their Medicaid eligibility checked by their states’ health department.

According to DHCS figures, 1,066,215 African Americans in California have Medi-Cal. Over 2.6 million whites are enrolled in the program, as are 7.4 million Latinos. Over 2.8 million people who did not provide a race or ethnicity are insured by Medi-Cal and the number of Asian/Pacific Islanders enrolled is over 1.4 million. By ethnicity, people of American Indian/Alaskan Native descent account for the lowest number of enrollees at 55,851.

Children’s Partnership Executive Director Mayra Alvarez said during the online call that it is important for Medi-Cal eligible families to keep coverage.

“As we come out of this public health emergency, health insurance coverage and access to care is essential for everyone to be healthy and thrive,” she explained. “Particularly during this pandemic, which has also exacerbated mental health issues for children and youth across the state.”

Alvarez said most of Medi-Cal enrollees are people of color, and nearly 70% of the 5.7 million children that use the service are minorities.

“It is a lifeline for so many in our communities, and it’s a program that continues to be available for the millions enrolled,” she stated. “Even before the pandemic, long standing, structurally racist policies and practices have created an environment wherein families of color experience significantly greater degrees of instability. Instability in employment; instability in income; instability in housing. These economic and housing conditions actually heighten the risk of disruptions in health coverage and in doing so, eliminates the security that comes with having health insurance coverage.”

The packets inside the yellow envelopes Medi-Cal members will receive ask for personal information, including their current phone number, email address, and street address. Recipients must reply by the deadline, which is typically between 45 to 60 days after getting the packet in the mail. For example, packets mailed this month have a June 30 due date and packets sent in May must be returned by July 31. The Medi-Cal account holders can provide that info by mail, online, or by calling their county’s Medi-Cal office.

“The easiest way to actually do this is online,” Huang remarked.

Medi-Cal members all have different medical renewal months. Around 30% will be automatically renewed. Those people will get a letter in the mail acknowledging that.

Also, addressed during the briefing were the steps involved in redetermining a person’s eligibility and how to get information in 19 different languages.

Between two million to three million Californians will lose the health service, while others will become eligible for the first time.

Workers hired to jobs that provide health benefits and people who earn enough income to be shifted from the health coverage to Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, are among those predicted to lose Medi-Cal.

Huang said the switch from Medi-Cal to Covered California can be automatic.

“It all goes back to the member must have the most updated information with the county Medi-Cal office for that process to happen,” she said.

The Medi-Cal packets are sent to the last known address of beneficiaries. Recipients whose name, phone number, email address or mailing address have changed in the last three years need to update that information at Covered California, BenefitsCal, or My Benefits CalWIN.

Medi-Cal coverage, Alvarez said, can continue for everyone who is eligible.

“Now is the time to make sure we are taking the necessary steps to keep our coverage,” she noted. “This is especially important for people of color, who are more likely to rely on Medi-Cal for coverage and who are more likely to be at risk of losing that coverage.”

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California Black Media

Gov. Newsom Announces He Backs a Ban on Cellphones in Schools

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to restrict the use of smartphones in K-12 schools statewide, he announced on Tuesday. The Governor stated his intentions amid warnings from President Joe Biden on the harmful impact of social media on children. The announcement followed a report released by the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy that calls on Congress to regulate social media platforms.

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Shutterstock.

By California Black Media

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to restrict the use of smartphones in K-12 schools statewide, he announced on Tuesday.

The Governor stated his intentions amid warnings from President Joe Biden on the harmful impact of social media on children. The announcement followed a report released by the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy that calls on Congress to regulate social media platforms.

Proposed regulations include warning labels on harmful content that may hurt minors active on social media. The Governor stated that he plans to sign a law that authorizes school districts to limit or ban the use of smartphones by students or require the supervision of a school employee.

“As the Surgeon General affirmed, social media is harming the mental health of our youth. Building on legislation I signed in 2019, I look forward to working with the Legislature to restrict the use of smartphones during the school day,” said Newsom.

“When children and teens are in school, they should be focused on their studies — not their screens,” he said.

In 2022, Newsom authored a letter urging companies in the tech industry to drop a lawsuit against the children’s online safety law he signed that same year. Newsom aims to take online safety laws a step further allowing school districts to ban or limit the use of smartphones to help protect children from the harmful effects of social media.

The California School Boards Association argues that any rules on the use of smartphones should be regulated by school districts as opposed to the state.

Troy Flint, the school board association’s spokesperson, said that school districts should make the final decision on regulations over smartphones.

“We support legislation which empowers school leaders to make policy decisions at a local level that reflect their community’s concerns and what’s necessary to support their students,” said Flint.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) supports Gov. Newsom’s plan to ban smartphones during school hours, stating that smartphones and devices distract students from learning and facilitate cyberbullying.

On June 18, LAUSD voted to ban the use of cellphones during the school day.

In a similar light, Sen. Henry Stern (D-Malibu) proposed SB 1283 earlier this year. If passed, the legislation will give school districts more authority to limit the use of social media at school. SB 1283 is currently under review in the Assembly Education Committee.

“It’s just too hard for every teacher, every school, or every parent to have to figure this out on their own,” said Stern. “There are sometimes when government just has to step in and make some bigger rules of the road.”

A similar bill, AB 3216, introduced by Assemblymembers Josh Hoover (R-Folsom), Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Al Muratsuchi (D-Rolling Hills Estates), is being considered by the Senate Education Committee.

The bills would take effect in January if passed by the Legislature and is approved by the Board of Education in school districts that support the cellphone ban.

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Community

Gov. Newsom: California Is Making Progress in Fentanyl Fight

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that state law enforcement authorities seized 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl across the state since the beginning of the year. The California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force partnered with local and federal law enforcement to seize illegal fentanyl off the streets and at ports of entry along the Southern border, according to Newsom.

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By California Black Media

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that state law enforcement authorities seized 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl across the state since the beginning of the year.

The California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force partnered with local and federal law enforcement to seize illegal fentanyl off the streets and at ports of entry along the Southern border, according to Newsom.

Two weeks ago, the State Senate passed the bipartisan Safer California Plan to address the fentanyl crisis and reduce crime in communities statewide.

Senate President pro-Tempore Mike McGuire (D-North Coast) has coauthored 15 bills focusing on crime prevention in local communities. Ten of the bills focus on evidence-based prevention and treatment solutions that address substance abuse and the fentanyl crisis.

Pro Tem McGuire said the bills, “will help curb the deadly fentanyl epidemic,” and reduce community-based crimes that impact people across the state.

CalGuard Major General Matthew Beevers worked alongside law enforcement partners to tackle the fentanyl crisis in the state.

“The volume of seizures we’re enabling and supporting demonstrates our commitment to denying operating capital to drug cartels and making California safer,” said Beevers.

Before the Senate’s package of bills passed, Gov. Newsom compiled a master plan designed to tackle the growing fentanyl and opioid crisis in California. The master plan provided a framework that addresses drug trafficking, supports overdose prevention efforts, and holds the pharmaceutical industry accountable.

“Illegal fentanyl has no place in our neighborhoods. California is tackling this problem head-on by holding drug traffickers accountable and increasing seizures, while at the same time expanding access to substance abuse treatment options and providing lifesaving, affordable reversal medicine to Californians statewide,” said Newsom.

The Newsom administration has also launched an online resource and tools for residents seeking help with prevention and treatment methods for fentanyl and opioid-related substance abuse at Opioids.Ca. Gov

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Activism

Community Celebrates Historic Oakland Billboard Agreements

We, the Oakland Billboard Economic Development Coalition, which includes Oakland’s six leading community health clinics, all ethnic chambers of commerce, and top community-based economic development organizations – celebrate the historic billboard agreements approved last year by the Oakland City Council. We have fought for this opportunity against the billboard monopoly, against Clear Channel, for five years. The agreements approved by Council set the bar for community benefits – nearly $70 Million over their lifetime, more than 23 times the total paid by all previous Clear Channel relocation agreements in Oakland combined.

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The Oakland Billboard Economic Development Coalition.
The Oakland Billboard Economic Development Coalition.

Grand Jury Report Incorrect – Council & Community Benefit

We, the Oakland Billboard Economic Development Coalition, which includes Oakland’s six leading community health clinics, all ethnic chambers of commerce, and top community-based economic development organizations – celebrate the historic billboard agreements approved last year by the Oakland City Council. We have fought for this opportunity against the billboard monopoly, against Clear Channel, for five years. The agreements approved by Council set the bar for community benefits – nearly $70 Million over their lifetime, more than 23 times the total paid by all previous Clear Channel relocation agreements in Oakland combined.

Unfortunately, a recent flawed Grand Jury report got it wrong, so we feel compelled to correct the record:

  1. Regarding the claim that the decision was made hastily, the report itself belies that claim. The process was five years in the making, with two and a half years from the first City Council hearing to the final vote. Along the way, as the report describes, there were multiple Planning Commission hearings, public stakeholder outreach meetings, a Council Committee meeting, and then a vote by the full Council. Not only was this not hasty, it had far more scrutiny than any of the previous relocation agreements approved by the City with Clear Channel, all of which provide 1/23 of the benefits of the Becker/OFI agreements approved by the Council.
  2. More importantly, the agreements will actually bring millions to the City and community, nearly $70M to be exact, 23 times the previous Clear Channel relocation agreements combined. They certainly will not cost the city money, especially since nothing would have been on the table at all if our Coalition had not been fighting for it. Right before the decisive City Council Committee hearing, in the final weeks before the full Council vote, there was a hastily submitted last-minute “proposal” by Clear Channel that was debunked as based on non-legal and non-economically viable sites, and relying entirely on the endorsement of a consultant that boasts Clear Channel as their biggest client and whose decisions map to Clear Channel’s monopolistic interests all over the country. Some City staff believed these unrealistic numbers based on false premises, and, since they only interviewed City staff, the Grand Jury report reiterated this misinformation, but it was just part of Clear Channel’s tried and true monopolistic practices of seeking to derail agreements that actually set the new standard for billboard community benefits. Furthermore, our proposals are not mutually exclusive – if Clear Channel’s proposal was real, why had they not brought it forward previously? Why have they not brought it forward since? Because it was not a real proposal – it was nothing but smoke and mirrors, as the Clear Channel’s former Vice President stated publicly at Council.

Speaking on behalf of the community health clinics that are the primary beneficiaries of the billboard funding, La Clinica de la Raza CEO Jane Garcia, states: “In this case, the City Council did the right thing – listening to the community that fought for five years to create this opportunity that is offering the City and community more than twenty times what previous billboard relocation agreements have offered.”

 

Oakland Billboard Economic Development Coalition

Native American Health Center La Clínica de la Raza West Oakland Health Center
Asian Health Services Oakland LGBTQ Center Roots Community Health Center
The Unity Council Black Cultural Zone Visit Oakland
Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce
Oakland Latino Chamber of Commerce Building Trades of Alameda County (partial list)
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