After a three-hour discussion, testimony of over a dozen community groups, and many questions, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw their application to launch a Low-Income Health Program. As a result, they are rejecting over $28 million in federal funds available to them for each of the next two years. Supervisors Case, Larson, and Poochigian voted to withdraw the application. Supervisors Anderson and Perea voted against the motion.
This makes Fresno the only county out of all 58 California counties to not take advantage of these federal funds and the opportunity to expand coverage, available under the state’s “Medicaid” waiver.
While this is a shame for Fresno, it’s unclear what these means for the rest of the state. The biggest issue of concern was unique to Fresno–namely, a 30-year contract between the county and Community Regional Medical Center, to provide care to the indigent. The contract has been a sore point for both the county and the hospital–and both parties believed implementing a LIHP would requirement opening up that contract.
No other county has a situation quite like Fresno, and thus won’t have the same barriers to implementing a LIHP–and taking advantage of those federal funds. But still, advocates should continue to talk with their counties about the benefits of seizing the opportunity to expand coverage, bring in federal funds, help create jobs, and bolster the health system everyone relies on.
(This post has been corrected to remove erroneous party identifications of the Fresno Supervisors.)