Public health director sees opportunity in Affordable Care Act

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

The Affordable Care Act has focused new attention on health care in the United States, and though many disagree about the merits of the legislation, all can agree that it means change — change in many ways.

Plumas County Public Health Director Mimi Hall discussed some of those changes with the Board of Supervisors during its Oct. 11 meeting.

Hall titled her presentation “Opportunities in a Changing Health Care Landscape.”

“I am here to talk to you about the opportunities,” Hall said.

In Plumas County it means more people can be covered by private health insurance, and more people will be covered by Medi-Cal.

It also means that people will now be able to access mental health and substance abuse care and both can be covered by insurance and Medi-Cal.

“As a nation we are finally beginning to get that ‘health’ isn’t just physical health,” Hall said.

But for Hall, the changes mean more than access to a health care plan or a broader spectrum of services.

It’s also about coordinating efforts.

As an example, she cited the fact that the local hospitals can bill for mental health services, but they don’t have therapists on staff.

“But the mental health department does,” she said. “It’s about coordination.”

It’s also about the community in general — from the economy and employment, to the location, to crime and much more.

For instance, Hall cited the example of a doctor telling a patient “to exercise after work.”

“But what if there are no streetlights or no sidewalks?” Hall asked.

She talked about a “purpose-built community” near Atlanta, where government joined with private enterprise, such as banks and developers, schools and nonprofit organizations to build a community that facilitated healthier lifestyles.

For example, when it became apparent that parents needed help with day care, the school day was expanded. Not only did that help parents financially, it improved the graduation rate and showed a reduction in crime.

For more information about these efforts, go to

A purpose-built community might not be the solution in Plumas County, but Hall thinks there are steps that can be taken.

To that end she has formed the Living Well Coalition 20,000 Lives Campaign, to get all of the partners to the table.

The kickoff event is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the second floor conference room of the Plumas County Public Health Agency.

Following Hall’s presentation, Supervisor Lori Simpson said she was concerned about forming yet another group and setting up another round of meetings.

“What about the community health assessment?” Simpson asked, referring to a series of meetings held throughout the county during the past two years. She said that the supervisors had yet to see the results of the assessment.

Hall said that some information was posted on the county website, but her department was still tabulating data.

Hall said she didn’t see the coalition as something new, but rather an extension of the work that has been underway.

“How do we bring this all together?” she asked.

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall also shared some concerns regarding the ability of many organizations to participate — such as hospitals, private businesses and nonprofits — because they are struggling financially and have their own issues.

Hall said she saw it as an opportunity to leverage funds and share responsibilities.

“When we’re successful is when we partner with the private sector,” Hall said. She made that statement when she first presented the coalition concept to the supervisors Oct. 4.

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