Court Reviewing San Diego County Health Program
Attorneys from the Western Center on Law and Poverty on Tuesday asked a state appeals court to order San Diego County to make allowances for county residents who are ineligible for a county health care benefit but cannot afford private health insurance, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Counties are required under state law to pay medical bills for indigent residents with severe illnesses.
However, Richard Rothschild, an attorney in the case, said county health officials set eligibility criteria that are too strict and disqualify many low-income residents (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/11).
A San Diego Superior Court judge in November 2005 ordered the county to restructure its formula for determining thresholds while considering a resident's ability to pay for medical costs. The county Board of Supervisors in December 2005 approved new eligibility thresholds: $1,078 per month for an individual and $1,445 per month for a two-person household. Residents who work are allowed to earn an additional $90 (California Healthline, 4/7/06).
Rothschild said the county should provide a system for low-income residents who earn more than the income thresholds to receive benefits through the program if they contribute to the cost of coverage.
The three-judge appeals court panel within two months is expected to decide the case (San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/11).