California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Ventura County Reopens Enrollment for Low-Cost Public Health Program

On Tuesday, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors reopened enrollment for the county Health Care Agency's Access Coverage Enrollment plan, which provides health coverage for low-income, uninsured adults, the Ventura County Star reports.

In April 2009, the county froze enrollment for ACE because of concerns that the program's costs would exceed its funding.

On Tuesday, Ventura County HCA deputy director Terrie Stanley told county supervisors that cost-control measures were working and that the program was ready to begin enrolling residents again.

ACE Details

Since county officials launched ACE nearly three years ago, the program has provided coverage for more than 13,000 residents. ACE is one of 10 county programs throughout California involved in a project to find new ways of providing health coverage to residents who do not qualify for Medi-Cal or other public insurance programs. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

Uninsured U.S. citizens with annual incomes lower than 200% of the federal poverty level can qualify for ACE. The program covers care at county hospitals and clinics, as well as Clinicas del Camino Real medical centers, where enrollees can receive dental care.

Enrollees' annual costs are based on income and are capped at $200. Copayments are $15 for primary care appointments, $20 for specialist visits and $100 for five days in the hospital.

ACE receives funding from the county and $10 million in annual matching funds from CMS. The federal matching funds are set to expire in August, but HCA officials said they are optimistic that CMS will extend or increase the funds.

Changes to Self-Pay Discount Program

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors also approved changes to the agency's self-pay discount program, which offers coverage for people who do not qualify for ACE or other public insurance programs.

The changes aimed to simplify enrollment for the self-pay program by shifting from six pricing levels for different income brackets to three pricing levels.

Officials said the self-pay discount program likely would see an increase in enrollment if funding for ACE runs out (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 4/27).

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