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County gets grant for chronically ill

March 30, 2007|Mary Engel | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County received a $162-million federal grant Thursday for a three-year program to help low-income adults with no medical insurance manage chronic illnesses.

The California Department of Health Services awarded grants to 10 counties for innovative approaches to improving the quality of care while reining in costs. The program focuses on adults because 90% to 95% of children in California are covered by private insurance or eligible for federal or state programs such as Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, said department Director Sandra Shewry.

Low-income adults with diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other chronic conditions often go without regular care, leading to complications such as foot amputations or strokes. The L.A. program will assign such patients case managers and enroll them in county or public-private clinics near their homes or jobs.

An estimated 1.6 million people in Los Angeles County lack medical insurance. The program, which will begin in September, will target an estimated 94,000 adults who meet income and other requirements. Federal rules bar illegal immigrants.

The grant money -- $540 million for the 10 counties over three years -- comes from a Medi-Cal waiver negotiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Orange County received $51 million; San Diego County, $39 million; and Ventura and Kern counties, $30 million each.

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mary.engel@latimes.com

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