SLO County Health Access Update
Connecting Children Ages 0-5 to Health Care
March 31, 2020
Public Charge Tool to Increase Benefits Use 
Easy tool to explain Public Charge impact to families   
During this coronavirus crisis, it is even more important that immigrant parents are not afraid to seek services or sign up for the benefits that will keep their families healthy. There is a new tool that will give them basic information about the public charge rule and tell them whether using public benefits could affect their immigration status. It's a simple guide that can be used by text or on a website. You can test it out on your own to see if it is something that might be helpful for your families.

The guide asks questions to determine immigration status and then explains how accessing public benefits may affect immigration status (their own or that of a friend or family member) and when and how to seek legal advice. It provides simple information in multiple languages and clear prompts and answers. If you use the online guide, it includes links to more information about the public charge test.

To access the guide you can either:
  • Send a text message to 650.376.8006. The message should simply say "benefits" for English, "libre" for Spanish, "福利" for Chinese, or "lợiích" for Vietnamese language assistance.
  • Go online to visit (also available in Spanish and Chinese).
Keep in mind that immigrants can seek testing, treatment, and prevention of COVID-19 without fearing immigration consequences due to public charge. These services will not count in a public charge determination, even if provided through Medi-Cal. 
Medical Access Updates  
Noor Clinic: The Vision Clinic, Dental Clinic, and Paso Robles Medical Clinic are temporarily closed. The San Luis Obispo Medical Clinic has suspended all in-person visits until April 6 due to staff shortages. Current patients can arrange phone visits with providers and obtain prescription refills by calling (805) 439-1797. 
CHC: Community Health Centers of the Central Coast is offering telephone visits for many types of appointments, for established patients. Patients interested in a telephone visit should request one when making an appointment.
Medi-Cal prescriptions: CenCal Health pharmacies will allow members to get an extra 30-day supply of most medications to help them shelter at home. For a list of pharmacies that deliver, information about mail order prescriptions, and basic information about COVID-19 to share with families, see: 
Health navigation: SLO County Public Health's Health Care Access team is still available by phone to help any county resident access and navigate health insurance and medical care. Contact Natalie Markis, Health Navigator at (805) 781-4815. 

Covered CA Re-Opens  
With the large-scale job losses due to COVID-19, many people are losing their health insurance as well. Covered California, the state insurance exchange that provides health insurance subsidies to individuals who do not qualify for Medi-Cal, is now open for anyone who is uninsured. This is a Special Enrollment period due to the new coronavirus.

Adults who work full time for low wages often earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal. They will face new state tax penalties in 2020 if they do not have health insurance and they are at risk for high medical costs during the current epidemic.

Clients can apply online at or get help from a certified insurance agent or certified enrollment counselor:
Parent Coaching: Domestic Stress Resource  
In these increasingly stressful times, when families may be confined to very small spaces with active young children and crying babies, it is critical that parents get the support they need to care for their children in a loving way. Domestic violence reports are on the rise locally. One thing you can do to help prevent child abuse is refer at-risk parents to a parent coach.

Parent Coaches are professionals with years of experience. They build parental strengths, encourage self-care practices, and help parents find age-appropriate parenting strategies. Coaching can help a parent find calm in the chaos and stay focused on what is most important - the parent-child relationship.

Parents can call directly to schedule a phone session:
North County & Coast, Bill Spencer: 805-904-1411
South County & San Luis Obispo, Ron Huxley: 805-709-2323
Countywide Spanish Coaching, Bessy Hoffman: 805-712-5038
Information & Questions: 805-543-3700
For more information: 
Health Access Information at
A First 5 SLO County Funded Program has a wealth of information to help you help families, with local resources related to:
   * Coronavirus Resources      
   * Special Needs      
   * Behavioral Health
   * Immigration: safety and service access  
   * Dental
   * Prescriptions
   * Medi-Cal & Covered CA
   * Transportation
   * Parental Substance Use, and 
   * R esources to help parents advocate for services

General needs and system navigation:
Send families in need of help to their local Family Resource Center : 

Can't find an answer? 
Let us know and we will find you  the  informati on  you are looking for.  For general questions about health ac cess and health care refo rm,  contact:
Becca Carsel, Health Access Project Director,  
at (805) 674-0776 or .phone