Wednesday, April 5, 2017

SB-575: Patient Access to Health Records

People in California who would like to apply for social service benefits, such as Medi-Cal, to obtain financial assistance, must jump through several hoops and meet certain requirements. Unless you meet certain stipulations, individuals looking for coverage need to show that they do not make over a certain amount of money. For instance, the income limit is calculated as a percentage related to federal poverty guidelines. Right now, that limit is about $1,188 monthly for an individual and $1,603 for a couple. Such limits fluctuate regarding the number of dependents you have. Setting finances aside, you can also qualify for Medi-Cal if you are:
  • 65 or older
  • Blind
  • Disabled
With all that in mind, it is fairly safe to say that the majority of Californians applying for state benefit programs are at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale—impoverished or indigent. They are applying for such programs because they need help to get by in life, no easy task when you are unemployed or are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

When people apply for Medi-Cal they are required to provide medical records to support one’s claims of eligibility. If you have ever had to get copies of medical records, then you are probably aware that there are fees associated with acquiring them. Asking people to pay cash for the medical records to prove their eligibility, when they are already financially struggling to get by, is a burden that should be mitigated. Fortunately, lawmakers are working to do away with such fees.

As things stand right now throughout the state, medical providers are allowed to charge patients up to 25 cents a page for copies and 50 cents for medical records on microfilm, Southern California Public Radio reports. Additionally, clerical fees can also be added to those page costs. SB-575: Patient Access to Health Records, introduced by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), would require medical providers to cover copy costs. The bill is not specific to just Medi-Cal, but all social services, including: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), State Supplemental Payment (SSP) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

"If you have several pages that you need it can be quite costly," said Leyva. "They [providers] can afford to absorb these costs. The poor people who are trying to receive their records cannot." 

Patient Access to Health Records, if passed, would also waive the medical record copy fees for people applying for:
  • In-Home Supportive Services
  • California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
  • CalFresh
As of April 3, 2017, SB-575 has passed the Senate Health committee and was referred back to the Senate Judiciary committee. 

If you have additional questions regarding the SSI and SSDI application processes, let our office help you through the lengthy and complicated process of applying and qualifying for these social security disability benefits. Call Driscoll Law Corporation at 949-359-1370 to receive your free consultation. 

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