Free health care for the poor

New program targets low-income residents of rural counties

Very low-income residents of Butte, Glenn, Colusa and Tehama counties will have an opportunity to receive free health care, thanks to a new program called Path2Health authorized as a kind of pilot program of the federal health-care-reform act.

Path2Health will serve an estimated 30,000 residents in 34 mostly rural counties whose incomes are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, which is set at $10,890 a year for a single person.

The services covered will include primary care, emergency and hospital care, pharmacy services and limited dental and vision care and mental-health and substance-abuse treatment.

The program will begin accepting applications Jan. 1 at county social-services offices or online at Applicants must be 19 to 64 years old and ineligible for Medi-Cal.