LA to expand health care coverage for uninsured

An exam room at a medical clinic.
An exam room at a medical clinic.
Patricia Nazario/KPCC

Los Angeles County is preparing for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul by enrolling hundreds of thousands of new recipients in local medical programs.

The county is preparing for the 2014 federal changes that will allow more uninsured Californians to be eligible for Medicaid.

The Los Angeles Times says the county hopes to register as many as 550,000 patients for free services at county medical clinics under a program dubbed Healthy Way L.A. This is part of the county's effort to change the focus of medical care from acute care to primary care, and help attract more patients while streamlining public health operations.

According to the Times, county residents are eligible for Healthy Way L.A. if they're citizens or permanent residents for at least five years and are between the ages of 19 and 64. Applicants must also be considered low-income, which is defined as being 133 percent beneath the poverty line.

Part of the 2014 Medicaid plan allows for patients to choose their caregivers. L.A. County is implementing these programs now to encourage L.A. residents to choose doctors within county lines.

California expects to receive more than $2 billion in federal funds and plans to expand and modernize its Medi-Cal program once Obama's health care program is implemented.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.