SACRAMENTO COUNTY: Begins Charging Medical Fee For Welfare Recipients
The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors yesterday "unanimously signed off on a plan to begin charging General Assistance recipients $40 a month for health care services," which "equals almost the same amount by which the county will soon increase its General Assistance grants," the Sacramento Bee reports. As a result, when General Assistance recipients receive an increase in benefits in July their monthly payments will increase from $201 a month to $206. Local advocates for the poor are angered that the charge for medical services that recipients previously had been able to access for free "means that the amount of cash available in their monthly grants essentially will stay the same." Jennifer Horne, attorney for Legal Services of Northern California, said, "The county's fiscal health has improved and there's no give-back to the folks who need it the most."
According to county supervisors, it costs the county an average of $92.76 a month to provide "medical care for indigent aduts." Sacramento County Supervisor Illa Collin "stressed General Assistance is envisioned as a stopgap for the destitute and the county prefers to direct its resources toward long term employment and housing for the poor." The Bee reports that most clients "are unemployed adults without dependent children who do not receive state unemployment or disability insurance and do not qualify for Social Security." Because "[t]hey often have varying degrees of mental or physical disabilities," they sometimes must wait years "to be declared legally disabled." In related news, the state Supreme Court said yesterday that it will "decide whether counties have to provide health benefits to people receiving General Assistance." An appellate court "found Sacramento County had no obligation to pay for health care in addition to General Assistance" (Martineau, 5/14).