Health Board for Native Communities Pursues Plan To Expand Care
The California Rural Indian Health Board is aiming to form a consortium of tribes to expand health care coverage in 37 California counties for Native Americans and Native Alaskans, HealthyCal reports.
The consortium would take on a similar role to California counties in administering the Bridge to Reform program (Moran, HealthyCal, 10/24).
The Bridge to Reform Medi-Cal waiver is a joint federal-state effort that aims to help California prepare for wider implementation of the federal health reform law in 2014. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The program provides matching federal funds to counties for health care spending for low-income, uninsured adults. Under the program, uninsured residents can be enrolled in a Low Income Health Program (California Healthline, 9/22).
Details of the Consortium
Tony Cava, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health Care Services, said that the agency has accepted an application from the board and that the application is going through the authorization process.
Jim Crouch, executive director of the Rural Indian Health Board, said the Bridge to Reform program provides an opportunity for Native American clinics to enroll more patients in Medi-Cal and depend less on funding from HHS' Indian Health Service program.
Crouch added that as many as 16,000 low-income Native Americans in California could be eligible for coverage under Bridge to Reform.
Challenges for the Consortium
Crouch said some of the challenges the consortium faces include:
- Funding issues;
- Organizational issues; and
- Recruiting and retraining physicians in rural clinics for Native Americans (HealthyCal, 10/24).