County Supervisors Move To Expand Health Care Access
San Mateo and San Diego counties this week took action on expanding health care services for county residents. Summaries appear below.
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved preliminary recommendations for a program to provide access to health care services for an estimated 36,000 to 44,000 uninsured adult residents whose incomes do not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level, the Oakland Tribune reports.
The plan was developed by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Adult Health Care Coverage Expansion and will emphasize primary and preventive care.
The program is estimated to cost $165 million annually. The county expects the program to save $48 million through coordination with other low-income health programs and seeks to apply an additional $41.5 million that currently is used for mandatory indigent care.
The county expects to cover the remaining $75.5 million through shared contributions from participants, employers, hospitals and taxpayers. Participants will be required to pay up to $100 monthly based on income (Gordon, Oakland Tribune, 7/25).
The task force in November will submit its final plan to the supervisors (Barak, San Francisco Examiner, 7/25).
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to expand the income eligibility guidelines for a county health care benefit for low-income residents with serious illnesses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Eligibility for the program will be expanded by December from 135% to 165% of the federal poverty level, or $1,404 monthly for an individual and $1,882 monthly for a two-person household.
The supervisors also approved copayments for residents whose incomes fall between the old and new criteria. The copays include:
- $20 for a primary care physician visit;
- $30 for a visit to a specialty physician;
- $50 for an emergency department visit;
- $35 per day in a hospital with a $500 maximum; and
- $15 for generic and brand-name prescriptions.
The new guidelines are in response to a state appeals court decision in May that ruled that the county was violating state law by denying care to residents whose incomes exceeded the eligibility cap.
County attorneys have petitioned the state Supreme Court to review the May ruling. A response is expected by September.
Plaintiffs' attorneys in the case, meanwhile, criticized the copays and said the program still excludes too many residents (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/25).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Tuesday reported on the vote. The segment includes comments from:
- San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox; and
- Richard Rothschild of the Western Center for Law and Poverty (St. John, "KPBS News," KPBS, 7/24).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.