Council supports CGU’s efforts on health care reform, quality of life

Claremont likes to keep it local when it comes to providing ways to help those in need. The distribution of Community Development Block Grants, the opening of Courier Place Affordable Housing and participation in the Los Angeles area homeless count are just a few of the ways.

The city may soon be able to add another means of local support to that list.

The Claremont City Council Tuesday lent its endorsement to Claremont Graduate University’s efforts to obtain grant funding for the establishment of an affordable health care reform outreach and education program. Through the program, the local graduate institution hopes to reach out to more than 100,000 uninsured or underinsured individuals throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

The city council, in being consistent with the city’s goal of equal access to health care and quality of life, unanimously voted to submit a letter of support to accompany CGU’s grant application.

“We are fortunate that CGU stepped up to the plate to do this,” said City Manager Tony Ramos in adding his support to the council’s decision to give those that most need these plans the opportunity to do so locally instead of having to go out to Pasadena or LA to do so.

Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 mandating that most individuals be required to carry insurance by 2014, whether through the state or an employer. To help aid with this mandate, the Affordable Care Act also mandated that health reform take place in phases to help those in need with this transition. That’s where CGU’s School of Community and Global Health stepped in. CGU administrators, estimating that the San Gabriel Valley region from west San Bernardino to east Los Angeles county, has one of the highest rates of uninsured or underinsured individuals in the state at about 30 percent, wanted to take part in health reform by reaching out to locals about the opportunities available through the Affordable Care act, according to Kathleen Trepa, Claremont’s director of community and human services.

Through a $1 million grant provided by the Covered California Outreach and Education program, CGU plans to act as an information and referral service to these individuals. “Assisters” employed through CGU’s program, in partnership with Pomona Valley Hospital among others, will meet one-on-one with these individuals, providing them with a list of referrals of programs offered through Covered California.

Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali questioned how the outreach program will make use of the $1 million grant. While Ms. Trepa explained that the money would be used for preparing and coordinating the public outreach campaign—targeting those in need of assistance, developing the public information material and then contracting with the service providers who would then perform the actual outreach efforts—Mr. Lyons broke it down further.

“It’s quite intensive and fraught with all kinds of difficulties in getting to the uninsured because very often they are in that situation because they are on the fringes as it stands,” Mr. Lyons said. “The million dollars is a minimal amount.”

“Somebody will be providing this educational service to our community, the idea being better local than distant,” he added. 

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