San Diego County Risks Losing Funds for Health Care Safety Net Effort
San Diego County might lose millions of dollars in federal funds because it has not signed up enough patients for a program that provides additional medical services for low-income, uninsured patients with diabetes and high blood pressure, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Seven months into the Coverage Initiative's first year, San Diego County has only signed up 95 of the intended 3,260 patients. The program is geared toward uninsured patients with incomes that do not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level.
The program aims to help participants monitor and control their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, weight, salt intake and alcohol consumption.
A federal grant announced last year provides $540 million over three years to California counties for health care safety net efforts. San Diego County's program was awarded $13 million annually for three years.
Stan Rosenstein, chief deputy director of the Department of Health Care Services, said the county has the lowest enrollment level of 10 counties that received federal funds through the program. If San Diego does not spend all the funds, DHCS will reallocate the funds to another county, Rosenstein said.
Otherwise, the funds would have to be returned to the federal government.
According to the Union-Tribune, the county's stalled rollout of the program is being attributed to restrictive eligibility requirements, lack of marketing for the program and poor coordination among the participating health providers.
Representatives from several clinics and hospitals said they were concerned county leaders were not using the funds to inform providers about the program so they could promote it, the Union-Tribune reports.
Other issues with enrolling new patients include:
- San Diego County's lack of a computerized system tracking low-income patients that could be eligible for the program;
- Processing applications for each county health program separately; and
- Problems verifying U.S. citizenship of applicants.
San Diego County also has not received any of the funds to treat the 95 patients enrolled in the Coverage Initiative because it has not signed a contract with the state.
Rosenstein said the county has raised a number of concerns with the obligations outlined in the contract.
Holly Crawford, a county spokesperson, said county officials hope to sign a contract next week (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/10).