Contra Costa Gets State Grant to Expand Health Coverage
March 29, 2007
Thousands of low-income Contra Costa County residents will be able to apply for health coverage thanks to a pilot program announced by the California Department of Health Services today.
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) was selected to receive about $46 million - $15.3 million a year - in federal funding for three years to expand health coverage to individuals and families who currently have no insurance.
Health officials estimate the program, which will be operated through the Contra Costa Health Plan, could reach at least 12,000 Contra Costa residents who are not currently eligible for other insurance programs. Nine other counties were also chosen, including four in the Bay Area.
"We are delighted that we now have the resources to provide access to health care for so many more people," said William B. Walker, MD, Director of Contra Costa Health Services. "For nearly five years, we've used limited county funding to offer coverage to the uninsured through our Basic Health Care program. This new funding will build on our experience and make it possible for more people to get preventive health care, have a regular provider and be treated promptly for medical problems."
Because of the health coverage programs that are already in place, CCHS expects to be able to "hit the ground running." While the official launch date is not until September, CCHS expects to begin establishing a waiting list within a few months for residents who want to coverage.
Walker said CCHS is ideally positioned to participate in the new demonstration project. It is a comprehensive, integrated, public health care system that includes Contra Costa Regional Medical Center; eight family-practice based primary care Health Centers providing more than 400,000 patient visits annually; an extensive network of mental health and substance abuse providers; and an array of public health outreach, education, and disease management programs.
"The new funding will allow us to actively go out and sign up people who have no health insurance. We'll be enlisting all of our program staff, physicians, outreach workers and community partners to get the word out," said Walker.
The County's Health Plan is the oldest publicly sponsored, Federally Qualified Health Maintenance Organization in the country with 60,000 enrolled members, according to Walker. The Health Plan will be the lynchpin of the new Health Care Coverage Initiative, supplementing CCHS' services with a Community Provider Network that includes 81 Primary Care Physicians, 290 specialists and the remaining three community Federally Qualified Health Centers in the county - Planned Parenthood, La Clinica and Brookside Community Health Center.
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