Published Date: January 18, 2022

Summary: California implemented the Whole Person Care (WPC) Pilot program under “Medi-Cal 2020,” a Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver program designed to coordinate the care of high-utilizing Medi-Cal beneficiaries across medical, behavioral health, and social service sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders began in mid-March 2020, during the last year of WPC implementation, and disrupted California’s plans to transition WPC enrollees into a new program under the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) initiative. In this policy brief, authors examine the impact of the pandemic on WPC implementation, enrollment, and health service utilization. 

Findings: Authors found that all WPC Pilots reported at least some pandemic-related alterations to WPC implementation. Total enrollment increased in 2020, with lower rates of new enrollment and disenrollment. The mid-March shutdown also resulted in an initial decline in enrollee health service utilization. However, by the end of 2020, primary care and specialty services had reverted to pre-pandemic patterns, while emergency department and hospitalization rates remained lower than pre-pandemic rates. In this policy brief, authors discuss the implications of these findings for the transition to CalAIM and WPC evaluation.

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