Economy threatens health insurance coverage for California children

Armen Hareyan's picture
California Governor and Children's Health Insurance

Up to 500 thousand children in California could lose their health insurance money because of California's $24 billion shortfall, including a $1.4 billion cut to Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid.

To address the economic crisis the government slashed nearly $179 million from a total of 228 million dollar funding dedicated to a regional program called Healthy Families. It is estimated that 500 thousand children could be among the losers in the facilities provided, said Rebecca Stark from the PICO national network of community organizations.

Meanwhile, cuts to the Healthy Families program are likely to be magnified. Because the federal Children's Health Insurance Program pays $2 for every $1 California spends, the cuts mean the state program will lose an additional $357 million in federal funding. In all, the program is losing almost half of its annual funding, said Ginny Puddefoot, a spokeswoman at the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers the Healthy Families program. She told that to Wall Street Journal.

Registration for the Healthy Families program, created 10 years ago, was frozen on July 17. While Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to eliminate the plan, he had to settle by reducing it, while facing a stiff opposition from the California Congressional Democrats


Parents of these children are in fear that the program may be eliminated one day leaving their children without health insurance coverage. These people say we can't pay for doctoral visits or for prescription medications

Recently, a research organization, called Children Now, found that more than one million children in California lack health insurance coverage. It says that unfortunately, the situation with child health insurance in California has become much more difficult.

"We believe that the state is wrong in endangering the health and education of poor children by the budget cuts and changes to eligibility rules," said Ted Lempert, president Children Now. He called the cut to Healthy Families "particularly galling." He said a coalition, including his group, is spearheading a campaign to put a universal children's health insurance measure on the fall 2010 ballot. "A struggling family puts their kids first," Lempert said. "What the governor and what the state has done is the opposite," he told to L.A. Times.

The bureaucratic measure to rewrite children's health program every six months threatens their well being, and if this does not change soon, MediCal and Healthy Families would lose most most children that hold health insurance policies through these programs, said Lempert.

Written by Armen Hareyan
Materials from WSJ, LA Times and Prensa Latina are used in this report.