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Legislative Budget Conference Committee Ends “#SeniorPenalty”

Yesterday, the 2019 Budget Conference Committee of the California Legislature produced its list of actions. The Committee agreed to adopt Governor Newsom’s subsidy levels and allocate an additional $450 million (General Fund) over three years to fully fund the cost of the standard premium for seniors and adults with disabilities for the Medi-Cal program with incomes between 122% and 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. With this anticipated $10 million per year, the funding level is pushed to cover all seniors in this gap, which has been termed the so called “senior penalty.”

With this change, approximately 30,000 beneficiaries will no longer have to pay a $600 per month share of cost to participate in Medi-Cal or go without coverage.

A bill, AB 715 (Arambula, D-Fresno), would have also provided funding to cover this gap. The bill enjoyed unanimous support when heard in the Assembly. The issue is now in the budget trailer bill and will be approved by Governor Newsom in the budget approval process. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2020.