California Health Report: Falling Through the Cracks: Thousands of Low-income Residents May Have Lost Health Coverage

Medical doctor at the blood pressure

By Hannah Guzik

Martha Luque has diabetes, so she knew she needed health insurance.

But the 60-year-old apartment manager almost lost coverage this year, because of the shifting landscape of California health programs.

Last year, Luque was one of 654,000 residents statewide enrolled in the Low Income Health Program, a pre-Obamacare initiative to try to cover those without insurance.

But, on Jan. 1, that program ended and the Affordable Care Act took over. Most of the former Health Program enrollees now qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, which has been expanded to cover more of the nation’s poor.

But 24,000 of them do not.

Although they were notified that the program was ending and given information on Covered California, the state’s health-care marketplace, they have essentially been dumped from their health plan and left to fend for themselves on the exchange.

“They’re falling through the cracks,” said Dee Pupa, manager of the Health Program in Ventura County. “Health-care reform is very complex — I understand it because I live it everyday, but the typical person in the community, they don’t understand.”

No one knows how many of the 24,000 — all of whom had health benefits last year — are now going without, because state officials are not tracking those numbers.

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  • LAAAC is managed by St. Barnabas Senior Services; Funded, in part, by Archstone Foundation.
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