Santa Cruz stops cruising, for now…

A few weeks ago we were thrilled to announce to you that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to increase eligibility for their Low Income Health Program.

Much to our dismay, their neighbors on the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors has voted to establish a wait list for their program (called MediCruz), meaning they will be capping enrollment, effective October 17th.  Even though Santa Cruz county is home to over 32,000 uninsured, the program only aimed to enroll 2000.  Now, with 2,100 in the program, the county is slamming on the brakes.

According to the plan Santa Cruz County submitted to the state, they initially intended to stop enrollment and start a wait list once their expenditure level reached $9 million dollars.  The report submitted to the Board of Supervisors last week does not indicate at all how much the County has spent, just that they reached 2000 enrollees.  If in fact the county has not spent all of the money they have budgeted this program, there should be no reason the county should be halting enrollment.  But this information has not been made public.

This action is short sighted considering the fact that cutting off access to primary and preventive care for low-income adults will mean more people putting off care until the need becomes more urgent, serious, and expensive – and without MediCruz, the cost of this care will have no federal match. In 2014, all those enrolled go automatically into Medi-Cal, 100% federally funded, and off of the county demand.

It’s good news that Santa Cruz county met its initial enrollment goal so quickly. As we get closer to 2014, we hope the Board of Supervisors reconsiders, and understands the financial incentive to go more people enrolled.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.