Best Laid Plans Collapse Leaving Medically Uninsured in the Fault

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June 14, 2011; Source: Santa Maria Times | A partnership formed by San Luis Obispo County in California and a local nonprofit health provider is threatening to collapse after the county cut its “partner’s” funding to the quick. State law requires that counties cover the medical care costs of medically indigent adults – a program called County Medical Services Program.

The partnership between the county and Community Health Centers of the Central Coast began in 2003 when the county closed San Luis Obispo General Hospital. The Community Health Centers were to have taken up the role of medical home to those underinsured and uninsured who had been being served by the hospital.

But in 2003 the Health Centers were contracted for $5.1 million in services through CMSP. Since then the budget has been cut back and this year the recommended budget for the program is $2.2 million. According to Ron Castle, the CEO of the clinics, this has created a situation in which to serve the uninsured on behalf of the county would cause the organization to operate at a deficit.

According to this article from the Santa Maria Times, some county officials may believe that the agency has not sufficiently cut its operating costs which amount to $60 million (across two counties). Predictably, skeptics are also referencing the salary of the CEO, which is reportedly $300,000. The county grants amount to 5 percent of the agency’s total budget.—Ruth McCambridge