San Diego County Must Expand Eligibility for Health Care Benefit
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a June ruling that will allow more San Diego County residents access to a county health care benefit that covers the cost of medical care, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/24).
County attorneys last month petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by a three-judge panel of a state appeals court that found that San Diego County violated state law by denying medical care to county residents whose incomes exceed eligibility guidelines for the County Medical Service program but cannot afford private coverage.
The appellate judges said state law requires counties to pay for emergency and necessary medical bills not only for adults with no ability to pay, but also for adults with limited ability to pay (California Healthline, 7/3).
Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn will determine how to enforce the decision by the Supreme Court. A hearing has not been scheduled.
Tim Berry, deputy county counsel, said the Board of Supervisors last month approved new eligibility guidelines for the program that satisfy the justices' requirement.
The new policies, set to take effect by December, expand eligibility to residents whose incomes fall between 135% and 165% of the federal poverty level. However, these patients will have to make copayments for medical visits, hospital stays and medication (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/24).