The Office of Civil Rights within the USDA has issued detailed final guidance, including its responses to submitted comments, clarifying the obligations of entities receiving federal financial assistance from USDA (e,g,, the California Department of Social Services, which administers the SNAP/CalFresh program). If you work on language access issues affecting the CalFresh population, this is a must-read, to better understand USDA’s expectations of state agencies “in meeting their existing obligations to provide meaningful access for LEP persons.” 79 Federal Register 70771- 70784.
In response to recent FNS changes in the federal SNAP rules targeting illegal trafficking, the CalFresh program is changing its process for warnings to recipients who make repeated requests for replacement EBT cards. Effective 2015, County Welfare Departments will issue warning letters to any EBT cardholder after the fourth card replacement within any rolling 12-month period. Upon the fifth request, if trafficking is suspected, the County will be required to refer the case to the Special Investigation Unit (SIU).
That said, this ACL recognizes that frequent requests for EBT card replacement may be indicative of non-fraudulent situations, e.g., the recipient’s need for a disability-related reasonable accommodation, simply (although frequently) misplaced cards, or the recipient’s inability to properly use the card. The County is expected to explore these alternate reasons for the repeated requests before making an SIU referral. ACL-14-90.
DHCS issued a letter outlining the handling of former foster care youth in the Mandatory Coverage Group (MCG) and Optional Coverage Group (OCG) for Medi-Cal applications and enrollment. Applicants in these categories are supposed to be provided with a simplified eligibility determination and enrollment process through the use of self-attestation. Instructions, frequently asked questions, and the application form are included with the letter.
DHCS defines MCG as those youth who were receiving Medi-Cal in foster care under the responsibility of any state of tribe on their 18th birthday or a later age. OCG includes youth that were not receiving Medi-Cal benefits while in foster care on their 18th birthday and are between ages 18-21. DHCS ACWDL 14-41.
DHCS issued a letter directing the counties to remove references to deprivation from Notices of Action that refer to Medi-Cal program linkage. All non-MAGI notices must also include specific language about potential separate notices about eligibility for other Medi-Cal programs. DHCS MEDIL I 14-58.
DHCS issued a letter on November 26, 2014, reminding counties that the appointment of authorized representatives now lasts until a change is made. This change could be the applicant/beneficiary modifying/cancelling the authorization, the appointment of a new representative, the representative withdrawing, or a change in the law. Previously, the appointment period lasted for a year. DHCS MEDIL I 14-57.
DHCS is providing counties initial guidance on dealing with MAGI Medi-Cal cases where all individuals on the case need to be denied or terminated from the program. The letter outlines five steps:
- Counties will identify pending and active cases that should be denied or terminated where all members on the case are MAGI Medi-Cal within three priority areas: duplicate applications, failure to complete redetermination, and failure to complete determination.
- SAWS will receive the county lists and send them to CalHEERS.
- SAWS or MEDS will take negative action through a backend data fix.
- SAWS will generate and send NOAs.
- CalHEERS will take negative action using a backend data fix.
The letter includes a list of negative actions (Attachment A) and an overview of the different systems (Atttachment B). DHCS MEDIL I 14-56
This letter notifies counties of the DHCS-required process for reducing the pending backlog of Medi-Cal cases. DHCS will cull through lists for a preliminary determination of eligibility, which counties will then evaluate by December 1. DHCS will then start granting preliminary eligibility coverage included on these lists. DHCS MEDIL I 14-55, 14-55 E
DHCS issued guidelines about which materials must be offered to households at the time of application and at the time of renewal. The set of documents depends on applicant type: New Household, Medicare Savings Program, Non-MAGI, Renewal. The letter provides the lists of documents. DHCS MEDIL I 14-54.
Several new forms and notices for Stage 1 child care, revised to comply with current regulations and to be more easily understood by recipients, were sent to the counties on November 13, 2014. ACL 14-85.
CDSS has made available a new online video, available in English, Spanish, Armenian and Chinese, that demonstrates how providers are to document overtime and travel time that will be compensable beginning January 1, 2015. The video explains the compensation and reimbursement changes related to SB 855 and SB 873 and explains proper use of several new related forms, including the revised time sheet and the new travel claim form. ACIN I-65-14.