SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Supervisor Liz Kniss, Chair of the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors Health and Hospital Committee, is among invited guests joining President Barack Obama as he signs into law the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as health care reform. The event will take place in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, March 23. Kniss, a strong advocate for reform, also serves as Co-chair of the Health Care Reform Task Force for the National Association of Counties and Chair of the Health and Human Services Policy Committee of the California State Association of Counties.
“We applaud President Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and our Congressional delegation for their superb leadership in securing this much needed health reform,” said Kniss. “This means that an estimated 450,000 people in Santa Clara County who lack health insurance will now be able to get coverage.”
This new law will increase Medi-Cal payments for primary care doctors, which would increase the amount of funds Santa Clara County receives for patient care. It also will expand the eligibility for Medi-Cal for those families whose incomes are about a third higher than the Federal Poverty Level - $29,327 a year for a family of four. Those funds will go to states to be allocated to counties to cover the costs of eligible populations.
“Families with children aging out of their existing insurance coverage will see a benefit this year,” Kniss continued. “This means a lot of moms and dads will be able to rest easier knowing their older children will continue to have health coverage, especially those who have completed their studies but may not yet have employer sponsored health care.”
The absence of health insurance means that many Americans do not seek preventive care or early treatment of illness. Consequently, the nation’s public hospitals see patients in the emergency room, often when diseases and illnesses have advanced to the point that they require expensive interventions.
“Every day, at this community’s public hospital, we see first-hand the tremendous toll of being uninsured,” continued Kniss. “When people don’t have insurance, they often wait longer to get health services they need. They wait to get screened and diagnosed for diseases that may be life-threatening. They wait for treatment for serious conditions such as high blood pressure and cancer.”
Under the new legislation, the current funding levels for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (Healthy Families) will remain through 2015.
“As elected officials in Santa Clara County, California, we take seriously our mandate to protect the health and welfare of our constituents,’ Kniss continued. “We have worked hard to increase access to care, including creating our own Children’s Health Insurance and dramatically reducing the number of uninsured children in our county from 70,000 in 2001 to about 12,000 in 2009, said Kniss. “We also have begun a program of health coverage called Valley Care which has more than 12,000 enrollees. Forty percent lost their insurance in the last year.”
“Our goal in all of the discussions about health reform has been to ensure that the voice and needs of counties were taken into account,” said Kniss. “We serve as the health safety net for the community. Now that net has been expanded and we will be able to provide care for more of our residents.”
The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 countries. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. For more information about NACo, visit www.naco.org.
The mission of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), is to represent county government before the California Legislature, U.S. Congress, state and federal agencies and other entities, while educating the public about the value and need for county programs and services. CSAC provides a broad range of services to all 58 counties in California through its Finance Corporation activities, public policy development, training, insurance service programs, research and a variety of communication tools, including Internet services. For more information about CSAC, visit http://www.counties.org/.
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119; Pattie DeMellopine, Chief of Staff, Supervisor Liz Kniss (408) 299-5050
Posted: March 23, 2010