TulareCare is a good first step for citizens, providers
Extending health care to those who may not qualify today is a positive step and should not only help those in need, but also local health care providers.
Tulare County Supervisors last week gave the go-ahead to establish the Low-Income Health Program, also known as TulareCare, as a bridge program to help indigent patients get care until the Affordable Health Care Act begins in 2014.
The program is part of the state’s effort to extend Medi-Cal to thousands of Californians who will be eventually covered under the federal program. The state hopes to expand Medi-Cal before the federal program kicks in.
Eligible for the program are adults 19 to 64 years old with incomes at or below 75 percent of the federal poverty level. It is estimated as many as 3,000 may qualify in the county.
The federal government is going to pay for half of the costs of the program, estimated at more than $8 million, with savings to the Tulare County Medical Services program expected to cover the other half of the cost.
All county hospitals and other care providers, such as Family HealthCare Network, are participating, and according to officials they many see federal reimbursement dollars they have not seen in the past. It was reported that local hospitals doled out $9 million last year to care for those unable to pay, and they were not reimbursed a dollar.
More importantly, the program extends care to a segment of the population that often goes without care until it is late and much more costly. The program includes preventive care, along with mental health services and prescriptions.
Without debating the pros or cons of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), TulareCare is a good approach in extending the health care safety net to more citizens in Tulare County. We do hope, however, that it does not cost the county more than what is projected.