County gives hospital $5.3M to create jobs

In preparation for the launch of a pilot program that would provide affordable health care coverage to low-income residents, San Mateo County supervisors Tuesday granted $5.3 million to the county hospital to create 57 positions to serve the project’s future patients.

The funds would supplement the $30 million a year in federal grant monies used to create much of the three-year program for 2,100 residents.

The program stems from the preliminary recommendations issued last month by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Adult Health Care Coverage Expansion. The task force, convened last year, sought ways to increase access to medical care for the more than 40,000 uninsured adults ages 19 to 64 living at or below four times the poverty level.

But at Tuesday’s meeting, Dr. Susan Ehrlich, vice president and medical director of ambulatory services for the San Mateo Medical Center, told supervisors that federal law mandates that residents must be twice as poor as the level county lawmakers originally envisioned in order to be eligible.

Those who take advantage of the plan must now be at no more than 200 percent above the federal poverty level, about $41,300 for a family of four, Ehrlich said. They must be documented legal residents of both the United States and San Mateo County, have less than $15,000 in assets and own no more than one car.

The program, which will focus on prevention and management of chronic health problems, will begin enrollment as early as Sept. 1.

tbarak@examiner.com

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