San Diego County Ordered To Expand Health Care Benefit
Earlier this month, a Superior Court judge ruled that a San Diego County health care benefit must cover the costs of medical care for residents whose incomes do not exceed 250% of the federal poverty level, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The interim ruling by Judge Ronald Styn was issued as a stopgap measure until the county submits new guidelines for the County Medical Services program that meet the court's approval.
Current eligibility for the benefits program is capped at 135% of the poverty level.
On Tuesday, the county's Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a proposal that would raise the income limits to 165% of the poverty level.
The county plan also would require copayments for patients who meet certain income requirements, although Styn's ruling prohibits copayments or other fees.
Styn also intends to order the county to retroactively pay certain medical expenses for residents who were denied benefits under the program because of income requirements. The retroactive order will apply to cases from January 2004 to the present.
County officials estimate that for every 1,000 new patients in the program, the program would need an additional $3 million for its annual operating budget of $67 million.
John Sansone, county counsel, said other county services may be delayed or canceled depending on how much the expansion will cost (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/20).