low income health program

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

In a cramped cubicle in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Fresno County, Neng Yang is playing a small role in the country’s healthcare overhaul. On this afternoon, she’s helping a Hmong woman enroll in Medi-Cal.

“She prefers English, so her kids can read to her, because she doesn’t read and write in Hmong, and sometimes the translation gets lost when it’s sent to her in Hmong,” says Yang, a certified enrollment counselor at Fresno Center for New Americans.

Community Hospitals/ UCSF Fresno

In Fresno County, implementation of the federal healthcare law has had some unintended consequences.

For one, the law expanded the insurance program for the poor, known here as Medi-Cal. That’s a huge benefit to uninsured people who could not previously afford health coverage. But it’s turned out to be a problem for the county. It’s now receiving less state funding for its medical safety-net program, based on the assumption that less people will need it. The county contracts out this care to Community Regional Medical Center.

Shellie Branco / Valley Public Radio

In less than one year, the federal health care law will take effect. When that happens, an estimated 1.4 million low-income, uninsured adults in California will become eligible for Medicaid. That’s a huge number of people who will suddenly be eligible for health benefits and better access to health care.