Clock is Ticking on Children’s Health Coverage
Legislators and the Governor Need to Step Up and Prevent Hundreds of Thousands of Kids from Losing Health Insurance
August 23, 2011
On behalf of the state’s leading children’s advocates, Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President of The Children’s Partnership, released the following statement in response to recent communications regarding a potential 37 percent shortfall in California’s Healthy Families budget for the current fiscal year.
Last week, the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers the Healthy Families Program, responded to an August 12 inquiry from the Department of Finance by announcing it would have no choice but to disenroll children from health coverage unless needed revenues are again approved. If California lawmakers and the Governor fail to extend an assessment on managed care plans before the end of the legislative session on September 9, Healthy Families will lose $130 million in state funds and $260 million more in federal matching funds.
“The ticking clock is the enemy of the kids right now. Unless our officials beat the clock by extending the existing assessment on health plans, which the industry supports, hundreds of thousands of California children could lose the health care they need to stay healthy and get better when they are sick or injured. That would not only be a heartless outcome – but a fiscally irresponsible one, too.
Failure to act by September 9th would cut $130 million cut in the state’s commitment to Healthy Families’ kids and send twice that amount – $260 million – in federal funds back to Washington. To make matters worse, disenrolling children would violate federal law, jeopardizing an additional $25 billion California now receives in federal Medicaid matching funds. Divesting $390 million from Healthy Families and billions more in federal Medicaid funds makes no fiscal sense when our state is struggling to maintain vital services for working families. It would be reckless and unconscionable to allow such harm to children and to California’s strapped budget.
Legislators and the Governor have time to step up and prevent hundreds of thousands of children from losing health coverage. But time is running out. There’s a better, smarter choice. By maintaining the managed care assessment and protecting Healthy Families funding, lawmakers can keep kids healthy and keep using taxpayer dollars wisely.”
Healthy Families Program
The Healthy Families Program (HFP), California’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), provides comprehensive, low-cost health coverage for nearly 900,000 children. The federal government contributes $2 for every $1 the state invests in the program.
For current HFP enrollment data by county, visit: http://mrmib.ca.gov/MRMIB/HFP/July_11/HFPRpt2A.pdf.
To speak to a children’s health advocate, please call one of the representatives below:
Ted Lempert, President – Contact Ronald Pineda at 510-763-2444 x119 to speak to Ted, or contact Ted directly at 510-763-2444 x155 or 650-245-8166
Kelly Hardy, Director, Health Policy – 510-763-2444 x126 or 510-220-4020
Children’s Defense Fund California
Deena Lahn, Policy Director – 415-279-4672
The Children’s Partnership
Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President – Contact Carrie Spencer at 310-260-1220 x12 to speak to Wendy or contact Wendy directly at 310-710-9830
PICO California Project
Rebecca Stark, Associate Director – 916-402-5804
United Ways of California
Judy Darnell, Director of Public Policy – 831-246-3099
California Coverage & Health Initiatives
Suzie Shupe, Executive Director – 707-527-9213
American Academy of Pediatrics-California District
Kris Calvin, CEO – 626-825-7444