Medi-Cal Explained Fact Sheet: Medicaid Waivers in California

Authors: Jennifer Ryan and Julie Stone

This fact sheet was prepared by Harbage Consulting and Julie Stone, an independent consultant,  as part of a series produced by California Health Care Foundation to provide an overview of the Medi-Cal program, including the people it serves, the services it provides, and how it is organized, managed, and financed.

Medicaid waivers have long been a foundation for innovation in Medicaid, providing states with freedom to test different approaches to program eligibility, benefits, delivery systems, and financing. Starting with background information on how and why the Medicaid program provides states with the flexibility to waive federal law, this fact sheet provides an overview how waivers are used in California’s Medi-Cal program. It includes information on the core tenets of the Medicaid program which are modified by waivers, a comparison of the types of waivers and their requirements, and an overview of what’s included in California’s current Section 1115 and Section 1915(b) and 1915(c) waivers.