Hospitals run by Los Angeles County could make free care available to more of their financially strapped patients under a new proposal aimed at expanding relief from medical bills.
County health officials said the proposed changes, which also include deeper discounts for other eligible patients, could ultimately benefit thousands of people in the county, yet are unlikely to have a significant effect on hospital finances.
The move comes amid ongoing concern across California about residents putting off or forgoing medical care due to the expense, despite state efforts to expand access to charity care and make sure patients know about financial assistance.
Under the proposed rules, free care would be available to eligible L.A. County residents with incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level, or $60,000 for a family of four under current guidelines. The existing cutoff is 138% of the poverty level, which amounts to $41,400 for a family of four.