State Able to Postpone Capping of HF Enrollment After Receiving Short Term Relief from First 5
First 5 funds act as short-term lifeline for state’s Healthy Families program, temporarily postponing need to deny tens of thousands of children healthcare
Los Angeles, CA
December 17, 2008
After being poised to close the state’s Healthy Families program to new enrollments, today the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) temporarily delayed enactment of a waitlist for kids who would otherwise be eligible for the program. The move comes after First 5 California provided $16.8 million in order to ensure that Healthy Families could continue to provide health and preventive care to California’s children at least through June 2009.“Today, thanks to First 5, we avoided what could have been a terrible decision for kids’ health,” said Peter Manzo, president and CEO of United Ways of California. now tens of thousands of California children will continue to have access to health care through next year. But make no mistake, this is only temporary relief. What’s needed is a long-term plan and funding to sustain children’s health coverage.”
Healthy Families is a widely successful and popular program. Today, Healthy Families provides coverage to 900,000 California children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but not enough to buy insurance on the private market. The program has recently been enrolling record numbers of children per month, due, in part, to the economic crisis impacting so many families. When parents lose their jobs, they also lose health coverage for their families.
But, because of the difficult budget year, Healthy Families was grappling with a budget deficit. By law, the program cannot operate with a deficit, which left MRMIB with few options but to cap enrollment. Absent First 5 providing funds to keep the program solvent, 162,000 children would have lost access to health care during the first six months of 2009.
Manzo further said, “At a time when more children are losing insurance as a result of budget cuts and loss of employer-based coverage, keeping this important program open is absolutely critical to help prevent a further erosion of the children’s health safety net. But ultimately we need to work toward insuring all California children so that no child goes without the healthcare he or she needs.”