At least 25,500 uninsured Sonoma County residents are expected to get health insurance by the end of the first year of full implementation of President Obama’s health care law, county health officials say.
In a bland industrial office building off Airport Boulevard, dozens of newly hired county employees have been logging what must seem like endless hours of training in preparation for the launch of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
At one end of the room, overlooking rows and rows of computer stations, an instructor walks trainees through each line of an application for health care coverage and subsidies.
Computer screen after computer screen, the instructor navigates the bureaucratic minutiae that will determine what kind of health insurance thousands of North Coast residents will be eligible for on Oct. 1, when the state’s health insurance marketplace opens for business.
An influx of overdue and unexpected state cash means Sonoma County government will soon be adding about 54 jobs in various welfare and aid programs.
The wave of hiring is a change for the county of late. Since the recession hit government coffers four years ago, the county has been focused more on shrinking its workforce or holding staff levels flat.
But the slow financial turnaround has recently unleashed some money due to the county for state and federally-funded programs administered at the local level. Those include services that assist and protect seniors and children, provide food stamps and oversee Medi-Cal and other health care programs for low income residents.
More than 6,000 residents in Sonoma County and 400,000 in the state are getting an early taste of health care reform, receiving a version of health care coverage promised to 30 million Americans nationwide. The coverage is part of California’s early expansion of the federal Medicaid program, a key component of the health care law promoted by President Barack Obama. Only six other states in the country and Washington, D.C., have such programs.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s hastily released state budget proposal would slash local health and human services programs while tying the fate of school funding to a proposed tax measure he wants on the November ballot. Whether the measure makes it to the ballot, and whether voters will approve it remains uncertain, leaving Sonoma County school districts again facing the prospect of building two budgets.
Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is part of a case the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to review concerning California’s proposal to reduce Medi-Cal reimbursements by hundreds of millions of dollars. Memorial would lose more more than $3 million a year if the reimbursement cut was implemented.
Democrats who control the Legislature are still trying to figure out if budget cuts proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown make sense. Critics say one proposal to eliminate a Medi-Cal health care program for seniors could actually increase the state’s costs. But administration officials say there are no easy solutions to the state’s $25.4 billion projected budget deficit. It has prompted Brown to seek deep cuts in programs that have long been protected by fellow Democrats.
Welfare recipients would see smaller monthly checks and low-income residents would pay more for medical care, local officials said Monday in evaluating Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to plug a $25.4 billion state deficit. Two of the biggest spending cuts in the governor’s plan hit Medi-Cal, the public health insurance program, and CalWORKS, the cash aid program for needy families.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his revised plan to close the state’s $19 billion deficit. County health services Director Rita Scardaci says the cuts will fall “on the shoulders of the county’s most vulnerable residents — individuals struggling with addiction and mental illness, low-income adults, seniors, families and children.” A closer look at the impact in Sonoma County.