L.A. County looks ahead to implementing healthcare changes
Los Angeles County officials, who operate a sprawling public health system that serves many uninsured patients, said Thursday's Supreme Court decision would ensure access to medical coverage for more than 1 million county residents.
"Today¹s decision by the Supreme Court affirms the principle that access to affordable, quality healthcare is a right, not a privilege," said county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "It's high time in our nation that every man, woman and child have the opportunity to meet their healthcare needs."
"We can now turn our attention to full implementation of the law in 2014," Yaroslavsky added.
The ruling means about 80% of the 2.2 million uninsured people in the county can look forward to affordable health insurance coverage, according to Los Angeles County's Director of Health Services, Mitchell Katz.
More than half of those individuals will be eligible to receive coverage through an expansion of federal Medicaid starting in 2014, Katz said. In anticipation of that change, the county health department has enrolled more than 200,000 low-income residents in Healthy Way L.A., a transitional medical care program. California still must formally agree to participate in the coming Medicaid expansion, Katz noted.
An additional 750,000 county residents will be able to purchase affordable health insurance through a new state-supervised health insurance exchange program, Katz said.
Katz said county health officials will have to closely monitor financial details of the healthcare reform package as they unfold in the coming months. His agency will "advocate for fiscal policies that safeguard [our] ongoing ability to serve as a safety net provider in Los Angeles County," Katz said.
--Erin Loury and Rich Connell
Photo: Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Credit: Ifran Khan / Los Angeles Times