As residents of San Diego County continue to lose health insurance, County officials could enhance their efforts to bring in federal funding newly available to increase coverage.
The Center on Policy Initiatives is calling on the County Board to re-examine its approach to the federal Affordable Care Act, in light of new research findings:
Employment-based insurance is declining, leaving an additional 27,000 San Diego County residents uninsured in 2010, and pushing many thousands more into public, taxpayer-funded programs such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, CPI reports in The Uninsured in San Diego County.
“Counties are responsible for providing a healthcare safety net,” said Corinne Wilson, CPI research and policy lead. “The federal government is offering funding to strengthen those safety nets, and that gives the San Diego County Board an opportunity to benefit taxpayers as well as individuals who’ve fallen on hard times.”
As the Union-Tribune reported this week, the County has limited early enrollment in the new Low Income Health Program, instead transferring participants in from another program it opted to close. Because the closed program had broader eligibility standards, the change by the County will leave more people uninsured in the future.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, which will be fully implemented by 2014, an estimated 203,000 more county residents could be eligible for Medi-Cal and others qualify for additional public programs. However, decisions on eligibility standards and allocating matching funds are left up to county governments.
CPI urges San Diego County officials to gather input from a wide variety of community stakeholders on the best way to respond to the federal healthcare reform opportunities, for the good of community residents as well as healthcare providers such as hospitals and clinics.