California Misses Opportunity for Share of $206 Million in Federal Funding for Covering Uninsured Children
December 27, 2010
California today forfeited millions of dollars in federal funding to other states - money that could have gone to provide critical health insurance for California’s children – as the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded $206 million in “performance bonuses” to 15 states that took steps to insure eligible children.
“It is really tragic that we lost out on an opportunity to provide health coverage to more California children, especially when there’s no reason California couldn’t have earned a performance bonus. The winning states face tough budgets just like we do, but they recognized that in hard times it is more important than ever to cover uninsured kids, and the federal government rewarded that commitment,” said Judy Darnell, Director of Public Policy at United Ways of California, on behalf of a coalition of organizations who work together towards ensuring all California children have health coverage.
Congress authorized the “performance bonus” funding through the Children’s Health Improvement Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. The law directs CMS to reward states that (1) successfully implement a specific set of policy and practice reforms to eliminate bureaucratic obstacles that prevent eligible children from enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP and (2) show a significant increase in enrollment in Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California).
California met the minimum requirements that made it somewhat easier for families to obtain coverage and stay enrolled, however, the state did not meet the target increase for Medi-Cal enrollment. To qualify for an award, California only needed to enroll approximately 24,000 more children than it did. There are approximately 700,000 children in California who are eligible but not yet covered by Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, out of a total of 1.5 million uninsured children statewide.
“Given how close we were, it is truly tragic that the state did not reach its enrollment target and therefore lost out on federal funds,” said Suzanne Shupe, Executive Director of California Children Health Initiatives. “We understand the dire economic circumstances facing our state. But a small investment to find and enroll the additional 24,300 eligible kids needed would have resulted in federal funds to significantly offset the cost of health care for those children.”
The fifteen states that received bonuses took aggressive steps to find the eligible children through active outreach and marketing. California has taken significant steps to ease the enrollment process but the families have to know it is available to them.
“We know how California can do better. California has made progress in enrolling kids but we cannot stop or go backwards now. We look forward to working with Governor-Elect Brown and the incoming administration to ensure our state is doing all it can to provide children with critical health coverage – including taking advantage of every opportunity for federal funding,” said Darnell.
The California Children’s Health Initiatives (CCHI) is a collaboration of local Children’s Health Initiatives (CHIs) in 29 counties dedicated to ensuring that all California children have access to quality health care. Together, the CHIs emphasize streamlined enrollment into Healthy Families, Medi-Cal and Healthy Kids insurance programs, and share a goal of creating and maintaining a sustainable health care program for all children in California. www.cchi4kids.org
United Ways of California is a state association of local United Ways and is a strong advocate of expanding health coverage to more children in California. United Ways work closely with local community and business leaders, legislators, congressional members and others to promote this achievable and important goal. www.unitedwaysca.org
The 100% Campaign, a collaborative effort of The Children’s Partnership, Children Now and Children's Defense Fund, was created to ensure that all of California’s children obtain the health insurance they need to grow up strong and healthy. www.100percentcampaign.org
Kelly Hardy, Director, Health Policy –510-220-4020
The Children’s Partnership
Kristen Golden Testa, Director, California Health Program – 415-505-1332
United Ways of California
Judy Darnell, Director of Public Policy – 831-246-3099