California Keeps Kids Enrolled In Healthy Families
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1422 by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), a bipartisan, shared solution that will prevent nearly 700,000 children from losing their state-provided health insurance through the Healthy Families program and allow the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB), the agency that oversees the state’s Healthy Families Program, to open the program to new enrollment.
“I am proud that the legislature, health plans and health care advocates were able to come together and agree on an innovative solution to protect the health care of California’s most precious resource - our children,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This bipartisan legislation means that hundreds of thousands of California children will continue to have access to health care coverage - without any new General Fund dollars. This shared solution is a great example of the type of options we should be considering in this economic time.”
AB 1422 provides $194 million in shared solutions to keep California children enrolled in Healthy Families, including:
* $80 million grant from the First Five Commission
* $14 million from modest increases in premiums and co-pays in the Healthy Families program
* Co-pays will increase from $5 to $10 for doctor visits and prescriptions and from $5 to $15 for emergency room visits. Enrollees will also incur premium increases ranging from $4 to $7 per child per month beginning November 1. There will be no premium increase for those families under 150 percent of the federal poverty line.
* $100 million from continuing an existing fee on Medi-Cal managed care plans
“In this tough year AB 1422 was an opportunity for us to do something together,” Assembly Speaker Bass said. “Helping keep 600,000 low-income children from losing their health care and thousands more from being stuck on a waiting list is an important and positive step. And with back to school season upon us and flu season on its way, this couldn’t have happened at a better time.”
As part of closing the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit, the July budget reductions would have resulted in the disenrollment of 670,000 low-income children from Healthy Families starting October 1 - the bipartisan AB 1422 protects the health care of these children.
In his veto message in the July budget revision, the Governor directed his Health and Human Services Agency to continue to work with the California Children and Families Commission, with local commissions, foundations and other interested parties to provide additional resources to supplement General Fund appropriations and provide health care coverage for as many children as possible.
The Healthy Families Program is low-cost insurance that provides health, dental and vision coverage to children who do not have insurance and do not qualify for no-cost Medi-Cal. This insurance pays most of the children’s costs for visits to doctors, dentists, eye doctors and specialists. The insurance plans also contract with clinics, laboratories, pharmacies and hospitals.