Slow First Day for Obamacare Coverage at LA County Hospital

70 percent of patients uninsured, currently paying nothing--officials hope they sign up for insurance


It was a quiet morning at L.A. County-USC Medical Center on Tuesday, as signups for insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare—got underway.

Hospital staff were mobilizing to sign up patients for expanded Medi-Cal coverage, but at 9:20 a.m., none had yet arrived at the entrance to the ER, where two men chatted at a bench outside and a few patients sat quietly awaiting care inside.

Whether uninsured patients of the county's largest public hospital sign up for coverage under the provisions of the healthcare law—or not—could have a major impact on L.A. County's health services system, which currently pays for medical care for uninsured patients who cycle through its three public hospitals and network of public clinics.