Woman sues county after exclusion from health care program

A car accident victim is suing San Mateo County, claiming she was left without medical care and in debt after being unfairly excluded from a health coverage program for the working poor.

Dina Vera, a 32-year-old orderly from Burlingame, claims the county violated the law requiring it to provide medical care to the indigent. The lawsuit argues that the county denied Vera admission to the program on the grounds that her employer offered insurance.

The lawsuit was filed Jan. 15 in San Mateo Superior Court. Vera is being represented by attorneys from the San Mateo County Legal Aid Society and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. The groups have raised issues with the county’s Wellness Education Linkage Low Cost program in the past.

After an Aug. 26 car accident, an uninsured Vera was brought by ambulance to the San Mateo County Medical Center emergency room where she was treated for back injuries and asked to return for rehabilitation therapy. At that time, Vera applied for the WELL Program, which provides discounted medical care for Peninsula residents who do not qualify for Medi-Cal.

Vera was rejected from the program weeks later. She filed two appeals, explaining she would not be eligible to enroll for company insurance until the next open enrollment in June 2008. Neither appeal allowed her to present her case in person or rebut the information on which the county was basing its decision, Douglas said.

Vera, who brings in $1,680 in gross monthly wages, is now in debt and delaying needed rehabilitation, Douglas said.

The lawsuit claims Vera’s right to due process was violated. It seeks to have the appeals process changed so that rejected applicants may tell their stories in person and review the reasons they were not enrolled. Douglas said another seven to 10 other clients are currently having problems with the appeals process.

San Mateo County’s Board of Supervisors met in closed session to discuss the case Wednesday but have not issued a legal response. Supervisor Jerry Hill said the program has an extensive appeal process.

“There has to be certain criteria and some people don’t meet the requirements,” Hill said.

The attorneys representing Vera also threatened a lawsuit over the WELL program in November, claiming a restrictive income cap and costly fees were turning many poor people away. County officials are in negotiations in that case.

tbarak@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

School board members Gabriela Lopez (left) and Alison Collins (right) say they have been the subject of frequent hateful, racist and sexist attacks during their time on the school board. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F Examiner)
Angered by Lowell decision, SFUSD grad targets school board members with violent imagery

Facebook page depicts two women of color on board with swastikas and x-marks on their faces

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a former school board member, said it was ‘ridiculous’ that the school district did not yet have a plan to reopen. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Supervisors demand SFUSD set a timeline for reopening

Pressure grows on district to resume in-person learning as The City’s COVID-19 case count goes down

“Tenet,” the new Christopher Nolan film starring John David Washington, is showing at the drive-in in Concord. (Courtesy Warner Bros.)
Drive-ins are popping up all over the Bay Area

There are pandemic-era options for movie lovers who want to watch outdoors

The San Francisco International Arts Festival will present performances this weekend outdoors at Fort Mason, including on the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF International Arts Festival wins health department approval for weekend performances

Rules allow no more than 50 people at outdoor Fort Mason performances

In this handout image provided by the California Department of Corrections, convicted murderer Scott Peterson poses for a mug shot March 17, 2005 in San Quentin, California. Judge Alfred A. Delucchi sentenced Peterson to death March 16 for murdering his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn child. (California Department of Corrections via Getty Images/TNS)
Prosecutors to retry penalty phase of Scott Peterson trial

2003 discovery of Laci Peterson’s body led to sensational high-profile murder trial of husband

Most Read