We are just days away from the Affordable Care Act taking a major step forward as millions of individuals and families begin to seize newly available opportunities to enroll in health care coverage.
The Mono County Health and Human Services Departments are where many people will turn to understand their expanded health care coverage options available either through the state insurance exchange, known as Covered California, which will offer income-based federal subsidies, or through the expansion of Medicaid (known as Medi-Cal in California).
Between these two largest components of the Affordable Care Act, California will experience the biggest increase in health care coverage in two generations. It’s estimated more than 1.4 million Californians will newly enroll into Medi-Cal. Covered California’s latest estimate for its core target group is 2.6 million who will be eligible for premium assistance.
Locally, we estimate that around 1,400 residents will likely qualify for tax subsidies through Covered California, and 100 residents will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal.
Through our work to serve the needs of Mono County’s most vulnerable residents, we know that the Affordable Care Act represents a tremendous opportunity to improve the well-being of individuals and families across our county. At the same time, readying our county for this unprecedented expansion – on tight timelines and often without all the answers from the many other entities involved in the governance of the Act – represents an enormous challenge.
Fortunately, our county has a solid head start in this effort. With the support of our Board of Supervisors, our staff has undergone hours of training, adapting to new programs, new rules and policies, and learning how to serve new populations. We have a knowledgeable, well-trained, bilingual workforce who knows their community well and understands the changing circumstances of clients’ lives. We offer an array of options for people to access our programs – in person, online, by phone, and by mail. (See box for contact information).
We know many residents will turn to us for help with enrollment starting October 1 for coverage that begins January 1. However, we’re just one piece of the puzzle.
Other entities at the state and federal levels are key pieces of the puzzle too. We’ve been working with partners such as Covered California, the California Department of Health Care Services, and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on procedures and technology that must work together to get people smoothly enrolled in coverage and receiving their federal tax subsidies. Our county computer system has to be able to connect with new state and federal computer systems built just in the last year.
All the pieces of the puzzle have to fit together, but we won’t know how well all the technology and procedures will work together until after October 1. Undoubtedly, there will be problems – some with easy fixes, some that are more difficult to overcome – we and our partners have to address. Know that we are committed to increasing access to vital human services and improving the overall health and wellness of our communities. The Affordable Care Act provides an opportunity to forward that mission by leaps and bounds.
Explore the Affordable Care Act!