Bipartisan Love Fest at Senate Health…

Today’s Senate Health Committee was short and sweet. The committee only heard 3 bills, one of which was Senator Fuller’s urgency measure on Low Income Health Programs (LIHP). The Low Income Health Program is California’s program to expand Medi-Cal early, before 2014 when the Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid eligibility to all low-income adults.

LIHP is a partnership between counties and the federal government, with the state acting only as an administrative agent. Some counties have been enrolling residents in LIHP since July of 2011 and as of the beginning of this year, over 370,000 Californians have come into new coverage. However some Counties have been slow to implement LIHP, for political and other reasons.

Senator Fuller’s Bill, SB1081, would allow district hospitals to step in where counties have not, and enable the residents of those counties to take advantage of these federal funds and opportunities as well. This bill specifically targets Tulare County.

Advocates expressed concerns that to the extent they are willing, the County be included in the process as much as possible, including performing their typical responsibilities of eligibility determination and enrollment, and planning to transition LIHP enrollees into Medi-Cal in 2014 when they become eligible. There was a positive discussion between the author, committee, and advocates to keep improving the bill. All parties agreed that the optimal solution would be for Tulare County to move forward with LIHP implementation, but that this was needed as a ‘Plan B’. The bill passed out of committee unanimously and will move expeditiously on to Appropriations.

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors will be discussing LIHP again on Tuesday April 17, and advocates are encouraged to attend that meeting to express support for LIHP. Those in Tulare County and interested should contact Rose Auguste at rauguste@health-access.org.
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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