Modesto's poor hit with hikes in health care costs

Modesto BeeJanuary 6, 2010 

Leslie Cook got the news Monday when she renewed her enrollment in the Stanislaus County indigent health program.

Starting this month, the county expects her to pay the first $355 every month for the medical attention she needs.

She frequently has required medical care since developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease three years ago, making it hard for her to breathe and leading to a rapid heartbeat that needs to be controlled with medication, she said. Cook, 41, lives on her husband's $1,075 in monthly disability income, so she can't afford to pay for physician visits, the medication she takes for fibromyalgia or the home oxygen machine that keeps her breathing while she sleeps.

"I will have to take the bare minimum medications," said Cook, who lives in Hughson. "I am probably going to end up in the hospital before it is over."

The indigent health program has been a safety net for the county's poorest adults, people who cannot afford private insurance and do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Medicare.

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