Healthy Way L.A. To Be Re-Launched; Advocates Urge Funding Boost
The Los Angeles Department of Health Services is planning to re-launch a program to increase health care access for residents who were unable to gain insurance through the Affordable Care Act, The Guardian reports.
About 800,000 to 1.2 million Los Angeles County residents lack health insurance, according to analysts.
Meanwhile, advocates argue that the county should provide additional funding to boost the program (Dayen, The Guardian, 4/20).
Background on Program
The Healthy Way L.A. program -- managed by the county's Department of Health Services -- allows patients to obtain certain no-cost services, including:
- Primary and specialty care;
- Emergency treatment;
- Mental health care; and
- Chronic disease management and medication.
Treatment is not offered outside of the county (California Healthline, 8/28/13).
Details of Re-Launch
Under the planned re-launch, uninsured residents whose income is lower than 138% of the federal poverty level would qualify for the program.
Not-for-profit and county clinics currently are determining how much money would be provided to cover each member of the program, according to The Guardian. In addition, the program plans to offer on-site specialists to help residents enroll in Medicaid or other public health programs.
However, the county initiative faces several barriers, including:
- Difficulty tracking covered populations;
- Difficulty making undocumented immigrants comfortable with the program; and
- A lack of long-term data on the effect of medical homes on health care costs.
Mitchell Katz, head of the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, said the program could be a model for other cities if it proves successful.
Advocates Urge Additional Funding
Ahead of a May 20 board of supervisors meeting, advocates are pushing for county lawmakers to increase funding for the program from $55 million to $165 million.
Jim Mangia, CEO of the not-for-profit St. John's Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles, said the additional funding would be less than 1% of the county's $26 billion budget, which currently has a surplus.
Mangia said advocates "plan to impose tremendous grassroots and political pressure" on county lawmakers, adding, "This would have a profound ripple effect across the country, for health care access, universal coverage and even immigration reform."
Anthony Wright, with Health Access California, said that it is "more feasible for states and counties to finish the job" that the ACA began and ensure that all residents have access to health care (The Guardian, 4/20).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.