Friday, October 31, 2014 12:00 AM

Continuing a commitment to care for the uninsured

Two potentially important health insurance events occur for some Valley residents in November.

  • Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchanges, opens its second enrollment period on Nov.15. For three months, people can choose from several insurance plans at various payment levels. Some may even qualify for government subsidy to cover certain premium costs.
  • Fresno County will end its Medically Indigent Services Program (MISP) contract with Community Medical Centers, effective 11:59 p.m., Nov. 30. Many MISP patients were transitioned into expanded Medi-Cal or Covered California earlier this year. The county estimates as many as 5,000 remaining patients who are unable to get insurance will be affected by the contract ending.

The County of Fresno and Community Medical Centers have agreed to terms to provide services to the uninsured under a modified plan to cover emergency services and comprehensive healthcare, said Stephen Walter, Community’s chief financial officer. Community provided $151.7 million in community benefits last fiscal year, including $82.6 million in charity care. Those programs for the underinsured and uninsured will continue regardless of county funding.

Community Medical Centers continues to cover emergency services and comprehensive health care services for the uninsured regardless of county funding or a patient’s ability to pay.  All local not-for-profit hospitals and federally qualified health centers have a responsibility to provide medical services, and look for opportunities to increase access to care, for underinsured and uninsured populations in our county, said Walter.

Patients who need help in enrolling in Medi-Cal, which signs up year-round, or Covered California can go to Community Regional Medical Center’s Eligibility Office at 2017 E. Illinois St. in Fresno. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. It’s staffed by Community and Clinica Sierra Vista employees and also has 10 computer kiosks for enrolling via the Covered California website. Community employees also help educate employees about their insurance options during admitting process, clinic visits or discharge from emergency care.

Reported by John Taylor, Public Affairs Director, and Mary Lisa Russell. They can be reached at