ACE healthcare program for uninsured to raise co-payments, annual fees

August 21, 2009
Santa Paula News

A successful public program that provides healthcare to the uninsured will have to charge more participant fees to keep from being inundated by too many patients and rising health care costs.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesA successful public program that provides healthcare to the uninsured will have to charge more participant fees to keep from being inundated by too many patients and rising health care costs. At a recent meeting the Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved a new fee schedule for the Access, Coverage and Enrollment program (ACE), which has about 9,000 members in the county.Ventura County was one of only 10 counties chosen in 2007 by the State of California to receive federal funding for the ACE program. Officials have stated the county ACE program is the strongest in the state. ACE, which requires a co-payment for medical services rendered, targets adults who are too young for Medicare and either donít qualify for or canít afford private insurance.With the new fee schedule, people with incomes below the federal poverty line - $10,830 for a single person and $22,050 for a family of four - will now have to pay an enrollment fee of $20 per year. People with incomes above the poverty line already pay fees, but those fees will now double; those who make 101 percent to 135 percent of the poverty level will pay $100 per year.
The annual ACE cost will be $200 for households that make 136 percent of the poverty line to the programís maximum of double the poverty line. Co-pays are also increasing, with the co-payment required for a visit to the emergency room going up to $75 from the current $45. ACE participants are required to co-pay for all medical services and prescriptions.In May, Ventura County Health Care Agency Director Mike Powers announced no new applications were being accepted for ACE. The program reached and exceeded its funding allotment under the state administered Health Coverage Initiative Program.The federal Coverage Initiative Program was designed to fund demonstration projects with innovative, cost effective approaches to providing health care for the uninsured. The ACE program has now been operating in Ventura County for almost two years and covers residents, 19 to 64, who are legal U.S. residents.



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