Ramping Up to 2014…

California continues to make important strides to expanding health coverage, and we reached a milestone this week. Here’s a report from our Northern California organizer Rose Auguste:

On Tuesday, Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors has voted to increase their Low Income Health Program (Valley Care) income eligibility from 75% to 133% of the federal poverty level. For a single adult with no dependants the income threshold is now up to $14,000 a year, and for  and a family of two (e.g. single parent and child) can earn up to $19,000 a year.  This is a notable increase when compared to the current 75% enrollment eligibility, which translates to $8,378 for a single adult with no dependants and $11,347 for a family of two. 

Since last summer, fifty California counties have launched Low Income Health Programs, starting this early expansion of Medicaid even prior to 2014. We are still encouraging the final eight counties to also launch a LIHP, to take full advantage of federal resources being offered and to provide our low income uninsured adults access to quality, comprehensive health coverage.  These much needed resources have contributed in preparing California for the January 2014 Medi-Cal expansion under the Affordable Care Act. 

We commend Santa ClaraCounty for increasing access to healthcare to its low income residents. For more information on the Santa Clara Low Income Health Program, please contact- 888-636-3394

This is not just big news for Santa Clara, but for California. It’s the first action of those counties already with LIHPs starting to ramp them up. After all, as we get closer to 2014, the financial incentives for expanding LIHPs become more favorable.
Here’s the reason: The health care for person enrolled in a LIHP is half paid for by the federal government, which prior to the ACA and the Medicaid waiver has been a cost fallen to the county. But in 2013, the county ends up only paying 50% of the cost of coverage until December 31st–when then the person gets covered by full Medicaid, and 100% of the cost of the coverage is picked up by the federal government. So the counties have a real incentive to get as many people enrolled as possible–they pick up only 50% of the remainder of the year, and then the person’s health costs are on the federal dime in 2014 and beyond. So the initial fears that a LIHP would bring out folks who would normally not use or get health care become moot.
So after a slow start, Santa Clara is doing what we hope every county does in 2013.
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.