A state computer glitch is holding up Medi-Cal applications across California. The delays have 94,000 San Diegans awaiting health coverage.

Speak City Heights

People applying for the state-based insurance can expect to wait up to 90 days before their coverage kicks in, thanks to a faulty state computer system that confirms they’re eligible for the program.

Rick Wanne oversees public assistance programs at the county. He said that confirmation is taking a while to get to him.

“The delay in the response coming back can range from a few minutes, to hours, to — when the traffic was really heavy — a couple of days,” Wanne said. “And we have a number of regular times where the system is just not available at all.”

Norman Williams, a deputy director with the state’s health services department, said officials are working on the technical problem, which stalls the automatic feedback state computers are supposed to send county computers when they confirm an individual is eligible for Medi-Cal.

Williams said the glitch isn’t the only problem. Waiting for applicants to submit documents verifying their income also holds up the process. He said there are 800,000 pending Medi-Cal applications statewide.

“There are things that aren’t working and need to be addressed,” Williams said. “But there are a lot of things that are working, as evidenced by the 1.9 million people we have enrolled [in Medi-Cal since January].”

County spokesman Craig Sturak said it’s all hands on deck at the county to push the remaining San Diego applications through.

“Obviously, it goes without saying that processing those pending cases, that’s our top priority,” Sturak said. “So we’re using all of our available staff to work on these cases and looking at overtime.”

The county has enrolled 107,000 individuals in Medi-Cal since October. It aims to enroll 300,000 by the end of the year. Medi-Cal enrollment is open year-round.

Williams said individuals with pending applications who need medical care can receive temporary benefits based on their presumptive eligibility at hospitals and most doctors offices. He said they can also ask for a temporary insurance identification card at county health and human services locations.

The Affordable Care Act expanded Medi-Cal to childless adults making up to $15,800. Those whose applications were submitted by March 31 are not subject to federal fines for lacking health coverage.

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her...

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