San Mateo Supervisors Request Review of Proposed Changes to WELL Program Amid Concerns
San Mateo County Supervisors Jerry Hill and Rose Jacobs Gibson have ordered a review of changes to the Wellness Education Linkage Low Cost program after advocates for low-income county residents raised concerns about a proposed policy change that would exclude homeowners from participating in the program, the San Mateo County Times reports. About 12,500 county residents are enrolled in the WELL program, which provides services to county residents who are ineligible for Medi-Cal and other public health insurance programs.
According to Melissa Rodgers, directing attorney for the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, some county residents whose incomes exceed state eligibility guidelines might have inherited homes but live on limited incomes. She said, "If people are faced with the choice, 'Is it my home or my health?' it's kind of a dire choice. We don't think it's really good public policy."
Deputy County Manager Reyna Farrales, who is working on the policy changes, said, "You can't really ignore the fact that if you do own a home, you have more choices," but she added, "I don't think anyone wants to put a patient in a position where they are forced to sell their home." She said one solution might be a different appeals process.
The county also is implementing a stricter screening process for WELL that requires patients to provide proof of residency and income (Ernde, San Mateo County Times, 10/19).