In July 2009, the County of San Mateo established the Health Coverage Unit after reaching key milestones in the Children’s Health Initiative (CHI) and the pilot phase of the Adult Health Care Coverage Initiative, led by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Adult Coverage Expansion (BRTF).
The CHI Oversight Coalition had achieved success in its campaign to maximize children’s enrollment in federal/state insurance programs, and create and sustain a locally-funded Healthy Kids program for children ineligible for state programs. In 2008, the BRTF reached its goal of launching a local coverage program for uninsured adults called Access and Care for Everyone (ACE). More than 24,000 adults enrolled in its first two years.
Both initiatives shared a component critical to their efforts in reaching uninsured community members—a team of community-based advocates who reach out to eligible low-income and uninsured residents, assist them in the enrollment process and in navigating the complex healthcare system. Community Health Advocates (CHAs) became well-versed over time in assessing eligibility and enrollment in state and local programs for uninsured adults, children, and pregnant women. The team of CHAs is now called the Health Coverage Unit (HCU).
Sustaining universal coverage for San Mateo County’s children continues to be governed by the CHI Oversight Coalition.