This week, the Alachua County Commission approved changes to the eligibility requirements for participating in the new health care program, CHOICES (Community Health Offering Innovative Care & Educational Services). CHOICES is the county's first foray into providing health care services for thousands of low-income, working residents.
After hearing from the CHOICES Advisory Board and citizens, commissioners voted to approve the recommended changes. The new changes will allow more citizens to qualify for the innovative county program.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that CHOICES works,” said Commissioner Rodney Long at the March 13 th meeting. “We know the need is out there, so we must tweak the program to make sure it fits our community.”
The new changes include:
• Increase maximum annual household income. For example:
• For a single adult, the income has been raised from $14,355 to $19,600.
• For a family of three, the income limitations have been raised from $24,135 to $33,200.
• Decrease weekly work hours from 32 hours per week to 25 hours per week.
• Allow otherwise eligible citizens to enroll even if they are offered health insurance at work, yet cannot afford the premiums.
“We are listening carefully to our citizen's inquiries about CHOICES,” said Candice King, program director. “It became clear that several of the program's eligibility criteria were overly restrictive.”
CHOICES, funded by a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voter referendum, began operations in October 2005. The program will continue to provide a broad range of health services for eligible residents through numerous health providers located throughout the county. Services include:
- Doctor and nurse visits
- Dental care
- Prescription assistance
- Disease management
- Health education
For more information or to enroll, call (352)264-6772 or visit the web site: www.acCHOICES.com .