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