SAN DIEGO COUNTY: Residents Urge Supervisors to Help Uninsured
More than 600 people representing several San Diego County churches held a rally Monday night calling on officials to expand health coverage to help the county's 645,000 uninsured residents, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. While many families cannot afford health insurance, protesters pointed out that the county's $600 per month salary cap disqualifies many of the uninsured from county assistance programs. Eileen Timmens of the Holy Families Church said, "That $600 hasn't increased in 10 years, and meanwhile rent, utilities, food and the supervisors' salaries have all gone up." Noting that other counties had salary caps as high as $1,200 per month, residents urged the Board of Supervisors to raise the limit. All five supervisors were invited to the rally, but none were in attendance. However, Dr. Robert Ross, director of the county's Health and Human Services Department, spoke on their behalf. He proposed several plans to improve the situation, including an additional $2.5 million to enroll more people in Medi-Cal and the Healthy Families programs and an additional $13 million to expand income eligibility from $600 to $700 per month. He also advocated funding a "consumer agency" and removing barriers that would dissuade illegal immigrants from seeking health care. Those attending the rally said the plans would not be adequate, and pointed to the $45 million tobacco settlement, a $280 million county surplus and $30 million from the tobacco tax as resources that could be used to help the uninsured. Democratic Assembly members Denise Moreno Ducheny and Susan Davis and Rep. Bob Filner (D) each promised to attempt to open "federal and state coffers for county health care" (Clark, 2/22).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.