UC Santa Barbara’s History Department is hosting a discussion of the Affordable Care Act this Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of the Student Resource Building. President Bill Clinton’s former health care policy advisor Paul Starr will provide a historical account of health care reform and health care rights in America. For a report at the county level, Public Health spokesperson Susan Klein-Rothschild will discuss the implementation of the act “beyond the numbers.”

“Lots of things that are ahead of us,” said Klein-Rothschild of her speaking points. “Some things we know and some things we don’t.” She explained approximately 1,700 more individuals have signed up on Medi-Cal and have chosen the Public Health Department as their primary care provider. Whether or not those individuals will use it as a means for preventative care rather than seeking treatment after the fact remains to be seen, she said. “Will we have the capacity to serve them all in the way they need?” she asked.

“Enrollment is just a small part of what [ACA] is,” she added. But as far as the numbers are concerned, the public health department has assisted 5,886 individuals (some are families) in signing up — via phone or in person — for Covered California or Medi-Cal in Santa Barbara County. As of last week, 3,817 of those assisted had enrolled. It’s unclear if those who enrolled previously had insurance, said Klein-Rothschild, and Covered California still hasn’t released the total number of people enrolled by county.

On the Central Coast, which includes six counties from Ventura to Santa Cruz, 61,474 consumers enrolled through the end of February (the latest available numbers) in Covered California health insurance plans (a 20.5 percent increase from January), which is about seven percent of the statewide enrollment. An additional 60,000 in the region are likely eligible for Medi-Cal, according to Covered California.

Late last month, Covered California announced it would expand the deadline until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. for those who had started the application but hadn’t finished by the March 31 deadline. A Covered California spokesperson said the latest statewide numbers will be available on Thursday. More than 1.2 million people had enrolled before the deadline, and through April 5, 3.3 million people had started applications.

The UCSB event is part of this school year’s Critical Issues in America Series, “The Great Society at Fifty: Democracy in America 1964/2014,” and is co-sponsored by the History Department and the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy.


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