Rules for San Diego County’s Indigent Care Program Must Be Redone
A San Diego Superior Court judge on Friday finalized a ruling that orders county officials to rewrite the rules for its County Medical Services program, which pays for health care for low-income, uninsured residents, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Judge Ronald Styn rejected a requirement in the program that requires patients with incomes between 135% and 165% of the federal poverty level to make copayments for their prescription drugs, hospital stays and physician care.
Styn also said that patients whose incomes exceed the upper threshold can reapply for hardship exemptions to receive coverage through the program.
In addition, Styn ruled that the county cannot deny applicants who previously rejected employer-sponsored health plans or take into account applicants' potential future income when making decisions on waivers.
However, the judge did allow the county to decide an applicant's eligibility based on how much he or she pays for rent, mortgage, food or transportation, and whether they have enough discretionary income to pay for health insurance.
San Diego County Counsel John Sansone said Styn's ruling was a partial victory for the county because the program's top income limit for eligibility was upheld.
The not-for-profit Western Center on Law and Poverty in Los Angeles filed the lawsuit against San Diego County in 2005 (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/29).