Del Norte County will seek state funding to offer health insurance for those newly eligible for MediCal under the Affordable Care Act.

Del Norte may be eligible for approximately $300,000 in California Department of Health Care Services funding to provide MediCal outreach services for two years, said Dorothy Provencio, assistant director of the county Department of Health and Human Services.

If approved, the California Endowment would fill in any gaps that aren't funded by the grant money, according to the county's staff report. The grant would take effect in July 2014.

County supervisors, by a 3-1 vote on Tuesday, granted the Del Norte Department of Health and Human Services permission to apply for the funding. Roger Gitlin dissented and Martha McClure was absent.

While that decision granted the Department of Health and Human Services permission to seek grant funding, the amount of money, requirements and details aren't yet known, said department Director Gary Blatnick. That information will be available in January, he said.

According to the county's staff report, the California Endowment has pledged grant funds to the state Department of Health Care services for MediCal outreach and enrollment efforts.

These funds would focus MediCal enrollment on those with mental health and substance abuse disorders, the homeless and those who are in county jail, state prison or are on state parole or county probation. Young men of color, families of mixed-immigration status and those with limited English proficiency would also be targeted for enrollment services, according to the county's staff report.

"These are generally populations that have a history of being uninsured, disproportionately uninsured," Blatnick said. "They want communities to do what (they) can to make sure we make an effort to reach out to them."

According to Blatnick, about 2,000 Del Norte residents will become eligible for MediCal benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

Provencio said these are recipients who would otherwise not come into the department's office.

"We would go out and help those individuals that wouldn't make it into the office," she said.

On Tuesday, Gitlin, pulled the item from the consent agenda and asked Provencio to provide information about the California Endowment.

"My concern is with this California Endowment, who has an agenda which I consider a little bit left of my core values, and how they identify those they wish to help," he said, referring to the newly eligible MediCal recipients. "My understanding is they will provide seed money and this will be a burden on the state. This will come onto the state level in expanded government."

Supervisor David Finigan argued that the newly eligible MediCal recipients were identified by the state, not by the California Endowment.

"These are people that fall between the cracks that have been identified," Finigan said. "Now there is access to MediCal there needs to be a concerted effort to find them. It benefits the entire community."

The California Endowment is a private health foundation created by the Blue Cross of California. The California Endowment created the Building Healthy Communities initiative, which is in 14 communities across the state, including Del Norte County.

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