County takes measures toward Obamacare


Imperial County health departmentUpdated Aug.8, 2013 @ 2:50 p.m.

EL CENTRO – Back in 1997, those incarcerated were not eligible for public funding of healthcare. Soon, 100% of their health care needs will be provided under the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

However, from today until Obamacare kicks in on January 1, 2014, the county needed a stop gap resolution to find funds to partially cover those in juvenile hall, on probation, on parole, under house arrest and in the county jail.

Robin Hodgkin, Director, Public Health presented a Resolution for Agreement regarding expenditures for county jail, or “patient” inmates to pay 50% of costs that qualify.  If the patient would qualify for Medi-Cal if not incarcerated and services were rendered that also qualified, such as more than a 24 hour hospital stay, then this agreement would pick up 50% of the costs.

Obamacare will significantly increase eligibility under Medicaid and states are implementing processes to take advantage of the federal reimbursement for prison inmate healthcare costs.

Captain Jamie Clayton of the Sheriff’s Office said there were significant benefits to implementing this program to fill the six month gap until the Affordable Care Act begins.

First, in-patient hospital costs for jail inmates are unpredictable and can be extremely expensive. Inmates being admitted to a hospital for a 24-hour period or longer are a high probability. Hospitalization has the potential to impact the general fund beyond the capped agreement with the California medical group (CFMG) that pays a partial amount of the total.

Second, Captain Clayton said, the processes that will need to be developed to successfully obtain reimbursement will to a large extent mirror the processes under Obamacare.

Robin Hodgkin, Director of Public Health, and the Sheriff’s Office both requested that the board pass and adopt the resolution approving the agreement to receive funds to reimburse the county 50% for patient inmates.

In other action:

In November of 2006, voters approved Proposition 1B which has provided $19.92 billion in bond funds for a variety of transportation priorities, including $2 billion for cities and counties to fund the maintenance and improvement of local transportation facilities.

The Imperial County was allocated close to $5.9 million and has used about $3.4million on road projects. $2 million went to crack sealing in the Seeley and Niland area and another $1million was allocated for overlaying the roads in Winterhaven.

The Director of Public works, William Brunet, was in front of the board to ask for another $800,000 for overlaying four miles of county roads in Ocotillo using the Prop 1B funds.

The Board approved his request.