An Opportunity to Transform Medi-Cal — and the Need for Legal Services in Whole Person Care

Categories: eNewsletter Story, Homepage, News

An in-depth February 14th story by Kristin Hwang at CalMatters details the sweeping changes coming to Medi-Cal under the Cal-AIM (California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal) initiative launched this January. Cal-AIM seeks to implement a “whole person care” model to improve health outcomes for low-income Medi-Cal recipients in high-risk populations facing complex health problems compounded by homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, mental illness or incarceration.

Cal-AIM’s whole person care model seeks to address social determinants of health like housing instability, food insecurity, lack of access to mental health services, and other factors through intensive case management and wraparound medical, mental health, housing, and other services.

The model for this ambitious statewide initiative was developed and tested at the county level in pilot projects, including projects in both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in which Bay Area Legal Aid was contracted to provide legal services to Medi-Cal recipients. As BayLegal attorney Abby Khodayari points out in the article, the end of the pilot projects has meant a loss of access to legal services, and the potential for increased housing insecurity in particular as post-moratorium eviction proceedings move forward. And while funding for legal services is technically available as part of Cal-AIM, without a specific guarantee to cover the cost of this vital component of whole person care, the future of support for legal services in Cal-AIM remains unclear.

To find out more about whole person care, the role of legal aid, and the remaining uncertainty about legal services funding as statewide Medi-Cal reform moves forward, we recommend spending some time with the full story at CalMatters.