SAN JOSE – A little-known new healthcare coverage program that promises to have a big impact on the uninsured got a big roll-out on Valentine’s Day as community advocates held multiple press conferences throughout the state to spread word about the Low Income Health Program.
Known as LIHP, the program is made possible by the Affordable Care Act, through Medi-Cal expansion. Thousands of uninsured in Santa Clara County would be eligible to receive healthcare through LIHP. Supervisor Dave Cortese was unable to attend but sent staff to show his support for the program.
Santa Clara County healthcare worker, Diana Marroquin, spoke at the Feb. 14 press conference in San Jose to say that LIHP was a step in the right direction. Univision and other media outlets covered the event, held at the County Government Center.
“Just as education is a basic right, so should healthcare be a basic right! Everyone deserves to have health insurance coverage – and to live healthy lives,” said Marroquin, a Senior Health Services Representative at Valley Medical Center. The event in San Jose was organized by coalition of community groups led by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment to highlight LIHP’s importance.
LIPH will allow half a million Californians to take advantage of expanded coverage options prior to 2014, when federal law expands coverage in the rest of the country. This early expansion of coverage is a county option, which most counties are taking advantage of in order to provide healthcare for the uninsured in a more effective and less expensive manner. The program brings federal dollars into Santa Clara County and economists estimate these dollars will bring thousands of jobs into local economies.
According to 2009 data, there were 230,000 uninsured people living in in Santa Clara county. Santa Clara County’s LIHP program covers people up to 75% of the federal poverty limit, ($8,378/year for a single person). Santa Clara County’s projections show that 23,000 people are eligible for the LIHP program. At the end of November (the last public enrollment data that has been released) Santa Clara County had enrolled 7,280 in LIHP.
Similar events were held Tuesday in Sacramento, Contra Costa, Tulare and Los Angeles counties.