October 5, 2012
Monterey County is one of just eight counties in California that's not yet launched an optional “bridge” program under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) to cover uninsured residents on temporary plans that last until 2014, when Obamacare kicks in.
With a Sept. 1 roll-out date already come and gone, the county is reluctant to offer up a new go-live date for ViaCare, the county's low-income health plan. "There is no timeline or roll-out date set yet," Natividad Medical Center Harry Weis writes by email.
That has some workers who could qualify for ViaCare speaking out to the Board of Supervisors and asking them to move the implementation process forward faster.
Home care workers spoke at the board meeting Tuesday, and have followed up this week by gathering dozens of petition signatures and signing letters. SEIU-United Long Term Care Workers organizer Erik Larsen says the group's been patient, but is wanting hard timelines.
"The main question we have is, 'When is the actual go-live date?," Larsen writes by email.
The reason for the delay is getting at least a half-dozen county departments to come together in giving ViaCare their blessing, Weis says: "There are multiple county departments that need to be comfortable and to agree before any start-up date can occur."
“We’re ready for health care now,” Larsen says.
The county plans to cover up to 1,500 residents on ViaCare, at a cost of $6.5 million. Most of the 15,000 people who would qualify will wait until 2014 for coverage when the Affordable Care Act takes effect.
Above, SEIU-ULTCW member Mario Torres cares for his mother; he doesn't work enough hours per month to qualify for insurance coverage, but would likely be eligible for ViaCare.