Group Objects to Fresno County’s Move To Opt Out of Health Program
The not-for-profit law firm Central California Legal Services has sent a letter to Fresno County officials objecting to supervisors' decision not to pursue millions of dollars in federal funds toÂ support a Low Income Health Program, the Fresno Bee reports (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 9/26).
Last week, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors decided in a 3-2 vote that the county cannot afford to launch LIHP, a move that rejects federal matching funds for the program.
LIHP is an optional federal program for California that would be established at the local level. It is part of California's Bridge to Reform program that aims to expand health insurance coverage until certain federal health reform provisions take effect in 2014.
Counties that set up the program are required to expand services at clinics and access to primary care. The program offers matching federal funds on all local spending.
The county would have had to adjust its Medically Indigent Services Program, which is managed by Community Medical Centers under a contract that does not end for another 15 years. CMC and county representatives concluded that MISP and LIHP could not be supported with the funding currently available, even withÂ the possibilityÂ of up to $56 million in additionalÂ federal funds (California Healthline, 9/21).
Details of the Challenge
Chris Schneider -- executive director of Central California Legal Services -- said that the county's decision was an affront to the county's low-income residents who need access to health care and that the county should have spent more time considering the issue.
The group also said that there was a possible conflict of interest with Supervisor Judy Case, who is a registered nurse. According to Jesse Avila -- director of litigation and advocacy for the agency -- LIHP would have had an effect on Saint Agnes Medical Center, where Case serves as weekend administrative director. Case said that county counselÂ had informed her that she did not have a conflict of interest.
Edward Moreno -- health officer and director of the county's public health department -- said he would not comment on the objections from the law firm (Fresno Bee, 9/26).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.