There were several interesting and consequential items covered at this week’s Board meeting.
Perhaps because I live in the eastern part of the county, I wanted to especially note a small item, with no controversy visible at the meeting. The Board approved the relocation of a sign designating the town Fall River Mills on Highway 299 on the eastern side of the community.
The relocation of the sign will move it back to where it traditionally stood, 1.4 miles to the west. CalTrans moved the sign in 2011 at the request of the Fall River Valley Community Services District. Roughly 60 town residents signed a petition to move the sign back to its original location, and CalTrans conceded that it had not adequately discussed the 2011 move with the community. In this unincorporated town, identifying where town begins and ends is not as easy as it looks. But I am delighted at the community action to identify where the town really is, at the relative civility of the discussion about the issue, and at the agency (CalTrans) willingness to accede to community wishes.
The Board again was subject to representatives from the Tea Party, the Integrity Project, and some staff from Anselmo Vineyard, all expressing dismay at the lawsuits between Vineyard and County, at the failure to approve a project that might result in jobs, and at past planning decisions that weren’t approved of by the speakers. The speakers left after making their presentations.
They may have been interested in a presentation shortly after the public comment period, from Mark Lascelles on the activities of the Shasta County Economic Development Corporation (EDC). The EDC was developed to retain and expand the primary industry base of our regional economy. The report expressed concern with the impact of the recession, California’s budget problems and the reputation of California’s regulatory climate on economic growth and development in the county.
Despite these challenges, Shasta County has seen a 13.6 percent increase in manufacturing jobs over the period December 2011 to December 2012. The Redding metropolitan area is one of the five most promising in California. Ten companies have newly located or are expanding within the county, and the EDC experience with the county’s Resource Agency has been good. The EDC is especially excited about entrepreneurial startups, for which they provide angels, mentors and other support. Twenty three of these startups have created more than 200 jobs in the last year. Pretty good news for a slow Tuesday morning, isn’t it?
The Board also acted to add a total of 37 full-time positions to the Health and Human Service Agency to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as required by federal and state law.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), of course, is the national health care legislation approved by Congress and ultimately declared legal by the Supreme Court. The County provides eligibility services for Medi-Cal. As ACA is implemented, more than 5,000 residents of the county are expected to be added to the Medi-Cal rolls, since single, childless adults up to 138 percent of the poverty level are eligible for the first time.
In addition, roughly 10,000 county residents are likely to be eligible for federal subsidies to purchase health insurance under the ACA. Many of these will enter the system through the Medi-Cal eligibility office, and the state expects that they will be served in a ‘no wrong door’ approach, including assistance in completing applications.
In addition to these two groups served through the Medi-Cal eligibility office, the state’s plan for implementing the ACA establishes Covered California, a marketplace where legal residents of California can buy health coverage, including those eligible for federal financial assistance to afford that coverage.
Covered California will allow participants to compare different health care plans. The ACA requires that most people over the age of 18 have health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014. Those who already have insurance need take no additional action. Covered California will operate three centralized customer service centers. These centers will refer Medi-Cal intake calls to the appropriate county.
Shasta County already has a call center; it has been selected to serve as a regional call center to receive these referrals from Covered California for Del Norte, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Sierra, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity counties in addition to Shasta County. The Board is pleased that this selection underscores the role of Shasta County as a regional hub in a variety of roles. The acceptance of this regional role allows the county to add 24 jobs, in addition to the 13 established in the Medi-Cal eligibility office.
The Health and Human Service Agency anticipates that the cost of these new positions will be supported by federal Medicaid and state funds. Covered California will begin to accept enrollment October 1, 2013; the Affordable Care Act implementation begins January 1, 2014 for all Americans. If you want more information about California implementation of the Affordable Care Act, visit www.coveredca.com.
Catherine Camp is currently retired. She served as a Consultant to the California Senate Budget Committee in 2001-02, reviewing Social Services, Employment Development, Aging, Community Services, Alcohol and Drug Programs, Rehabilitation and Child Support budgets. From 1989-2000, Catherine was Executive Director for the California Mental Health Directors Association. During that period, Catherine staffed the county mental health system’s restructuring of public mental health through Realignment of community and long term care programs from the state to the county, transfer of the management of specialty mental health Medi-Cal services to those counties that agreed to provide them, development of risk mechanisms for consortia of small counties, and advocacy and policy analysis for the operation of public mental health programs throughout the state. Her prior experience includes Executive Director to the California-Nevada Community Action Association, Principal Consultant to the Assembly Human Services Policy Committee, and Director of Community Action and Head Start programs in Shasta County.