San Diego County Lags in Providing Health Care to Poor Adults
San Diego County trails the majority of the state's other counties in providing health care to poor adults, the San Diego Organizing Project says, basing its contention on statewide analysis. The group, a coalition of 25 local churches, is calling on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to "match other counties" and increase the amount of medical services available, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The organization wants the county to raise the income "eligibility cutoff" for free treatment to $1,392 per month, up from the current allowable maximum of $696 per month. Project Chair Gloria Cooper explained, "We don't have a safety net at all in San Diego ... People are dying for lack of health care. They're going to Mexico or veterinarians." But yesterday, County Supervisor Dianne Jacob responded that the county lacks the $50 million needed annually for the proposal, noting that San Diego receives "unfairly low" health care funding from state and federal governments. "There is no question that the health care system is under-funded in San Diego County. We have done as much as we are financially able to do," she said.
The county recently raised the cutoff limit from $600 per month, expanding County Medical Services eligibility to an additional 2,600 residents at an estimated cost to the county of more than $2 million. Despite the county's efforts to raise eligibility levels, the current $696 monthly maximum still limits program participation to individuals earning below the federal poverty level. Conversely, a Pacific Institute for Community Organization survey revealed that six other California counties, including Orange and Riverside, provide medical services to those earning twice the FPL -- the same level the San Diego Organizing Project seeks for San Diego County. The Institute's statewide director Jim Keddy said, "For a big, urban county and a major metropolitan part of the state, San Diego is not doing much," adding that "most [California] counties are doing more" (Duerksen, San Diego Union Tribune, 12/6).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.