Zip Code Madness

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zip codes

EL CENTRO – North county residents who live in the northern area of the Salton Sea may soon be delivered from their zip code nightmare since the Imperial County Board of Supervisors signed a Letter of Request to the United States Postmaster.

The residents who butt up against Riverside County find themselves with a zip code they share with the citizens of rural Riverside and it is based in Riverside.

“When you drill down to the problem it is the zip code” Ralph Cordova, county executive officer, told the board.

The zip codes in question are 92274, 92254, and 92257.

The issue arises when the Medi-Cal or Medicare patients seek treatment. The bill is submitted to the clearing house in Phoenix that deals with approving and paying for the Imperial Valley resident’s treatments. They check the zip code and once they find that the zip code is in Riverside the bill is transferred to Kern County where the processing center is for Riverside County. Kern County recognizes the physical address as Imperial County and then kicks it back to Phoenix.  In the meantime, the patient goes back for more services and is denied care since the past bill has not been paid.

Ralph Cordova told the board that there is not a form to fill out with the USPS to change or alter zip codes. “This only involves just a few people, but for them it is serious when they are denied services because neither clearing house will pay their bills.”

Ryan Kelley, Supervisor District 4, brought up the matter as his constituents informed him of this ongoing problem.

The county will pursue two avenues for fixing this Catch 22. One will be to form a new zip code that is only in Imperial County and will encompass all the north valley residents who currently have shared zip codes with Riverside. The other alternative is to expand existing neighboring Imperial County zip codes clear to the county border.

Cordova said, “The United States has specific requirements that must be met to change zip codes. We want to make sure we stay within the guidelines. We have tried to do this several times in the past and failed. There is no application process to change zip codes, that is why we are starting the ball rolling with this letter of intent.”