LIHP in Sacramento County To Cover Only Poorest Residents
Sacramento County plans to implement the Low Income Health Program this month, but the initiative only will benefit the county's poorest residents, Kaiser Health News/Capital Public Radio/NPR reports (Bartolone, Kaiser Health News/Capital Public Radio/NPR, 11/4).
LIHPÂ is an optional federal program for California that can be established at the local level. It is part ofÂ the state'sÂ Bridge to Reform program that aims to expand health coverage until certain federal health reform provisions take effect in 2014.
LIHPÂ serves low-income adults without children, who will qualify for Medi-Cal in 2014 under the federal overhaul. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program. LIHP will be dismantled following the Medi-Cal expansion.
Counties that set up the program are required to expand services at clinics and access to primary care providers. The program offers matching federal funds on all local spending.
The state Department of Health Care Services said that about 552,000 people statewide are enrolled inÂ LIHP thus far.
Details of LIHP in Sacramento County
Sacramento County initially planned to begin participating in LIHP in August, but later announced a November launch because negotiations with participating hospitals required additional time, according to county officials.
As many as 14,000 adults in the region could be eligible for Sacramento County's LIHP initiative. However, county officials say it is possible that only about 8,000 adults could enroll in the program over the next eight months, which would reduce the expected initial cost of the initiative (California Healthline, 10/18).
Sacramento County's LIHP would cover childless adults with annual incomes of less than $7,500.
Sandy Damiano -- a deputy director with Sacramento County's Department of Health and Human Services -- said, "We â¦ did not have the appropriate infrastructure due to recurrent budget reductions or expertise to build a large infrastructure."
Damiano added that the agency is hoping that LIHP can help stabilize county residents with low incomes "in terms of their medical conditions and also decrease the hospital emergency room use."
LIHP Implementation Across Counties
Other counties have implemented LIHP differently.
For example, Alameda County's LIHP serves individuals who earn up to $22,340 annually. Unlike some counties, Alameda had enough money to draw down more federal funding for the project and an infrastructure of community clinics to use.
Alex Briscoe -- the Alameda County health director -- said that uneven implementation of LIHP across counties is the result of differences in:
- County politics,
- Health care investment; and
- The sophistication of administrative systems.