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Community Health Centers Preparing To Protect Vulnerable Communities After The End Of The Public Health Emergency

TUSTIN, Calif., March 28, 2023 – After more than three years, the automatic renewal of Medicaid is set to end this week as part of the unwinding of the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency. For Californians, the end of the PHE will not only affect access to Covid-19 tests and treatment, but it is estimated to leave up to 3 million people vulnerable to losing healthcare access.[1] In Southern California, Families Together of Orange County is working diligently to make sure that the ripple effect is as minimal as possible among patients and vulnerable members of the community. 

There is a lack of awareness within the communities in which redeterminations of Medi-Cal coverage will affect most, leading to a ramped up effort among community health centers and community-based organizations to educate and inform people about their rights and how to keep their coverage. Families Together has set up a robust team of Case Managers to help patients navigate the process and submit their renewal packets, all completely free of cost to patients. 

Families Together of Orange County’s CEO, Alexander Rossel, stresses the importance of education on what comes next and continued Covid-19 care after the end of the PHE:

“It has been a very taxing three and half years for healthcare workers and the community. The flexibility and assistance that was provided throughout the pandemic helped thousands of people obtain access to critical healthcare. Now, with the changes that are taking place, it’s important to make sure that people are aware of their rights and take action to maintain their healthcare benefits. By providing one-on-one attention via our Case Managers to assist with Medi-Cal renewals, along with education and continued accessibility to Covid-19 services, Families Together hopes to minimize the impact of this change on our patients and the community.”

Throughout the pandemic, community health centers have served as lifelines for vulnerable communities across the country. In Orange County, Families Together continued providing high quality healthcare when others closed their doors, serving a total of 70,191 unique patients throughout the pandemic and helped nearly 24,000 people enroll in Medi-Cal’s presumptive eligibility program, which allowed people to access Covid-19 services regardless of insurance status. 

However, the end of the PHE will bring an end to presumptive eligibility, meaning that Californians may be charged over $100 for vaccines and treatment that were previously at no cost to patients regardless of insurance status. Out of pocket costs will ultimately hurt those who are uninsured or underinsured the most, and community health centers like Families Together will continue to serve as a bridge in access to Covid-19 services throughout the country. 

Those who are interested in learning more about how to renew Medi-Cal benefits can fill out the interest form on the Families Together website here. Families Together Case Managers can also be contacted directly with questions by calling 1(800) 597-7977 Ext. 414 or by sending an email to socialservices@ftoc.us. More information on Families Together Covid-19 services can be found under the services section of the FTOC website. 

About Families Together of Orange County 

Since 2003, Families Together of Orange County Community Health Center (FTOC) has proudly served the Orange County community with a myriad of health services while providing a welcoming, multi-lingual and patient -centered medical home to all. FTOC is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, FQHC look-alike, a member of the Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers and the CPCA.

Please visit www.facebook.com/FamiliesTogetherOC  for more information on Families Together of Orange County and for the latest updates.