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North Coast providers eager for Obamacare

  • This Sept. 11, 2013 file photo shows the federal government form for applying for health coverage, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

With the launch of Covered California — the state's health insurance marketplace — tens of thousands of uninsured North Coast residents will be able to enroll in either low-cost health insurance or an expanded Medicaid program, the two main components of President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Even as the GOP continues to seek to de-fund or delay Obamacare, its main components are expected to go live Tuesday as scheduled.

Nor would a government shutdown likely stop it, since the federal government can rely on other sources of funding to implement Obamacare in the event of a lapse in appropriations funding, according to report this summer by the Congressional Research Center.

Whether or not Obamacare is in any peril is not something local health care providers are preoccupied with right now.

“Many of our patients have been eagerly awaiting Oct. 1,” said Beatrice Bostick, CEO of Alliance Medical Center, a federally qualified health center in Healdsburg.

The health center has doubled the number of its application assistors from two to four to help get people enrolled in either Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, or subsidized health insurance through the state health exchange.

About 50 percent of the health center's uninsured patients — about 1,800 people — will become eligible for insurance under the Medi-Cal expansion, Bostick said. Uninsured patients make up about 30 percent of Alliance's 12,000 current patients.

A smaller share will be eligible for “insurance products” offered through the exchange, she said.

“We've waited for this day to come and we're really looking forward to it,” Bostick said.

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