Bridge to Reform

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California Sends Incorrect Information to 246,000 Low-Income Patients

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By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News

California has mistakenly sent letters to 246,000 low-income residents, warning they may need to find new doctors next year under the state’s newly expanded Medicaid program.

The error frustrated counties and community health centers which have repeatedly assured patients they can keep their providers when the Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014. The patients are part of the state’s “bridge to reform” program, which was designed to cover uninsured, poor Californians until they became eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid.

Bridge to reform launched in 2011 and more than 600,000 people across the state enrolled in county-based health coverage. Many people formed relationships with doctors and started seeking regular care. But county and clinic administrators said the incorrect information in the mailing this month has put the counties’ efforts in jeopardy.

The mix-up occurred as people are scrambling to figure out how the health law impacts them, and as private policy holders have been receiving letters canceling their insurance plans. Continue reading

Bridge to Health Reform “Undoable” in San Luis Obsipo

By John Gonzales, Center for Health Reporting

San Luis Obispo County. (Steve Wilson: Flickr)

San Luis Obispo County. (Steve Wilson: Flickr)

California’s “Bridge to Reform” program is intended to do exactly that: provide a bridge to the 2014 roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. Right now, 47 of California’s 58 counties have already provided health care to more than 335,000 people. San Luis Obispo is a case study in one county that is not participating.

We have reported on the Bridge to Reform, also known as the Low Income Health Program, since its early phases. I was the reporter on our first piece, which looked at Kern County’s efforts to build the bridge. A follow-up examined the challenges of implementing the program in the far corners of Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

In San Luis Obispo, Health Agency Director Jeff Hamm said he made the decision to withdraw from participation reluctantly. For years, the county has slashed its health budget and outsourced its medical safety net.

It reached the point, Hamm said, of not having the start-up funds, or medical infrastructure, needed to implement the Bridge to Reform.

“We understood it would be good for a lot of people. We didn’t have the money,” said Hamm, whose county joins Fresno as a non-participant. “It was a big paradigm shift, a really big shift in terms of infrastructure, requirements for data collection, and processing. … We’re talking a 150-page contract with the State of California. … It became undoable for us.” Continue reading