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Health Care Pilot Program Is Approved in Calif. County

Thousands of people who didn’t qualify for affordable health coverage in California’s Santa Clara County will soon be able to get preventative care at a community clinic, regardless of immigration status or income, through a pilot program, Working Partnerships USA, a grassroots organization, reported.

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Earlier this month, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved the Health Coverage Initiative, which has been years in the making and relied on feedback from residents who lacked easy access to medical professionals. Under the pilot plan, approved on Nov. 3, residents will be able to see a primary health care provider or specialist who can assist with preventative treatment and chronic disease management before an illness becomes serious.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors allocated nearly $1.7 million to support the pilot effort, according to a county memo. Supporters estimate that about 167,000 county residents, including many undocumented immigrants, remain uninsured and lack access to affordable health coverage – something this program seeks to address.

“With national health care reform in place, the people left without coverage are our low-income and undocumented residents. This is a key reason that we see a racial gap in health access and health outcomes. We feel a moral imperative to close the racial health gap and make sure that all residents, including undocumented immigrants, have access to comprehensive health care,” Derecka Mehrens, executive director of Working Partnerships USA, said in a statement.

In January, the pilot phase of the initiative will start. During next year, health and grassroots organizations hope to enroll 5,000 low-income, undocumented residents so they can have access at a clinic that can serve as a “medical home.” As part of this initiative, a monthly grant will be provided for the person.

Hundreds of residents in Santa Clara County gave feedback in three languages about the initiative, as it was being planned. They did so through focus groups and community surveys. Partners in this initiative include the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System and Community Health Partnership.

Initiative partners will take the findings of the pilot phase and make a full report to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Working Partnerships USA is a community-labor organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of inequality for workers and communities of color. 

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