Santa Clara County officials applauded the Supreme Court decision Thursday to uphold major provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act, citing expanded coverage for the poor and cost savings to the county.
“This is a great and historic day and we are thrilled with the Supreme Court decision,” said Supervisor Liz Kniss, chair of the County Santa Clara Board of Supervisors’ Health and Hospital Committee, and former nurse. “This means provisions in the legislation such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, elimination of arbitrary benefit caps, and inclusion of standard prevention appointments with your doctor will be covered. Thousands of uninsured county residents will now have access to affordable coverage.”
Under law, all hospitals are required to care for the uninsured during emergencies, and often those who are uninsured are unable to get preventive care and allow treatable illnesses or diseases to escalate to emergency status. The county spent $95 million in fiscal year 2012 providing health care coverage to uninsured residents and expects this number to drop “significantly” once the act goes into effect in 2014, according to a statement.
About 138,000 of approximately 220,000 uninsured people in Santa Clara County will be covered under what’s been tagged . Other coverage, California Health Benefit Exchange, will help protect about 90,000 of those and 48,000 will be eligible under the expansion of Medicaid Coverage.
“The County of Santa Clara has always supported expanding coverage to the uninsured and we’ve done well in covering more people through our Low Income Health Program, which is called Valley Care,” said George Shirakawa, president of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “It’s the right thing to do.”
The county expects that under the new act people will be more inclined to participate in preventive health measures.
“We already have about 10,400 people signed up, but with estimates that there are another 48,000 folks in our county who are uninsured and will be eligible for Medi-Cal under the Medicaid Coverage Expansion,” said René Santiago, Deputy County Executive for the Health & Hospital System. “Because of our foresight, especially by the Board of Supervisors, the investments needed to successfully serve this increase in insured clients, have been and are being made.”