More Nevada County residents to be under the umbrella of Medi-Cal |

More Nevada County residents to be under the umbrella of Medi-Cal

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

Nevada County’s entire health community has been busily preparing for the changes expected to come with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in January. In Nevada County alone, it’s estimated that at least 2,000 adults will become newly eligible to receive health care under Medi-Cal insurance with an additional 8,000 potentially qualifying for soon-to-be subsidized commercial health care plans that accompany the new legislation.

Western Sierra Medical Clinic and Nevada County Health and Human Services teamed up in October to create a new county-wide collaborative, which meets monthly to discuss the upcoming changes in health care. Included in the collaborative are Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, In-Home Supportive Services, Sierra Family, Chapa-De Indian Health Program, Nevada County Social Services, other local providers, transportation, Community Recovery Resources, FREED Center for Independent Living and other community organizations focused on health.

“At this moment, we have 9,550 individuals (4,750 adults and 4,800 children) on Medi-Cal that we manage through our Department of Social Services. Another 2,000 disabled individuals have Medi-Cal linked to their Supplemental Security Income,” said Jeff Brown, director of Nevada County Health and Human Services. “In September of 2013, roughly 2,500 children currently on Healthy Families will be transitioned to Medi-Cal. In addition, another 1,150 adults on County Medical Services Program’s Path2Health program will be transitioned to Medi-Cal on Jan. 1, 2014.”

But the numbers don’t stop there, continued Brown.

“Additional individuals who may be eligible for Medi-Cal include another 2,000 or so adults who are estimated to have incomes up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level that are not on the Path2Health program,” he said. “Finally, it is estimated that there could be as many as 8,000 individuals whose income falls in the 139 to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level who could be eligible for a subsidized commercial plan.”

The Western Sierra Medical Clinic, a nonprofit community health center whose sites include Miners Family Health Center in Grass Valley and a clinic in Downieville, is expecting to feel the greatest impact when it comes to changes under the Affordable Care Act, said Brandy Kolmer, director of development and communications.

Already, roughly 190 individuals become new patients each month at Miners Family Health Center, which is the largest outpatient medical facility in Nevada County.

In 2012, Miners — which sees the most Medi-Cal patients in the county — saw more than 9,000 patients and more than 35,000 visits, Kolmer said.

With these numbers expecting to rise dramatically in 2014, Western Sierra has set in motion a host of changes — some in collaboration with other county entities — designed to effectively meet the needs of new patients.

These include: providing on-site care at Hospitality House, CoRR and Nevada County Behavioral Health; hiring two new patient coordinators to help patients more efficiently access services; a new call center; expanding hours; increasing health education programs and outreach; hiring five female providers; and, most significantly, building a new 16,800-square-foot medical facility that will include a dental clinic, pediatrics, maternity health, lab services, behavioral health services and a community education center.

The project is expected to break ground in early August and be completed by April 2014.

“As a community health center, it is in the fabric of what we do to provide more than just a place for individuals to come for health care. At times, we have to bring the services directly to the patients,” said clinic CEO Scott McFarland. “In addition to establishing strong ties with our community partners, our focus has been on ensuring that patient care always comes first. We have focused on assisting patients with establishing a primary care provider, helping them gain access to specialty care and providing a host of resources and health education to help individuals live healthier lives.”

To reach Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at or call 530-477-4203.

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