United Ways of California Says State Budget Deal Will Cause 250,000 Children to Lose Health Coverage
Urges State to Develop Solution and Funding to Cover All California Children
Santa Cruz, CA
September 16, 2008
The budget passed early this morning in the Senate and Assembly is an unfortunate step backwards on children's health in California. New Semi-Annual reporting requirements for Medi-Cal are expected to result in 250,000 children losing their health coverage, causing them to join the ranks of the uninsured.
“It is disappointing that the legislature has passed a budget that so negatively impacts our kids. For the first time in years, our state could actually see the number of uninsured children increase by hundreds of thousands of kids, meaning more than one million children would have to do without even basic healthcare coverage,” said Elise Buik, Interim President of United Ways of California.
When children lose health coverage, we all lose. Kids don’t stop getting sick – they just get less effective and less efficient care. Many uninsured kids are forced to use the already overwhelmed emergency room system as their primary source of care, while others experience more frequent hospitalizations for illnesses that could have been prevented.
The so-called Semi-Annual Reporting requirements included in the budget plan is not only poor health policy for our children, but it is terrible fiscal policy for our state. It creates unnecessary red tape for California’s working families by requiring the continual re-enrollment of their children into the Medi-Cal program every six months, instead of the current yearly enrollment. The added bureaucracy, staff and red tape associated with doubling the annual paperwork and review will hardly save the state money.
In 2002, the state of Washington chose to implement semi-annual reporting for children on Medicaid during a budget crisis. Almost immediately, 15% of children lost their coverage, they had to hire 160 new full-time employees and administrative costs went up by millions. Just imagine what could happen in California, a state nearly six times the size of Washington.
Buik further said, “Kids losing coverage can be squarely blamed on the state’s failure to enact policies and funding that ensure health coverage for all children. We need to reverse this trend and try to insure more, not fewer, children, to help kids and our economy as a whole.”