Failure of Ballot Measures Puts Children's Health At Risk
Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways of California, issued the following is a statement regarding today’s release of Governor Schwarzenegger’s two May Revisions of the 2009-10 state budget:“Today’s actions by the Governor clearly demonstrate his continued lack of commitment toward our most needy children. The proposed cuts to children’s health coverage in the two versions of the May Revise are unacceptable, and are out of touch with everyday Californians, who are struggling everyday to make ends meet due to our failing economy. “The proposed cuts to children’s health go from bad to worse – risking children’s health and success in school, and providing only illusory savings since children will be forced to seek needed health care in emergency rooms and community clinics. If the May 19 propositions fail, the Governor proposes to “save” $54.5 million by rolling back eligibility for the Healthy Families program to 200% of poverty, dropping roughly 225,000 children from coverage. Regardless of the special election vote on May 19, the Governor proposes to seek federal approval to cut $750 million from Medi-Cal. Children comprise 46% of all Medi-Cal enrollees, so their access to care would suffer significantly. The Governor also proposes to eliminate $2.7 million in funding for assistance to families enrolling their children in health coverage programs.
“Just prior to his election – and on multiple occasions while Governor -- Schwarzenegger committed to being a champion for children’s health, stating that all children in California should have access to health care coverage. Today, the Governor is taking a huge step backward. These recommended cuts put the health of California’s children in jeopardy, as it will result in more children losing health care coverage and becoming uninsured. Regardless of the outcome of this Tuesday’s election, the needs of our children must come first.
“This is the worst possible time to propose cuts to vital programs, such as Healthy Families. According to a April 2009 UC Berkeley Labor Center study, as many as 300,000 kids in California have lost employer-based coverage this past year, underscoring more than ever the importance of these public programs. Furthermore, Healthy Families enrollment is at an all time high, demonstrating families’ need for affordable health coverage options for their children.
“At a time when California desperately needs to secure even more federal dollars, these actions will result in California losing millions of dollars in federal matching funds for our health programs. As President Obama and the rest of the nation are moving forward on health care, with the enactment of CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) legislation and a strong push for health care reform, these proposed cuts to vital health care programs suggest that the Governor is moving the state away from the rest of the country and turning his back on children’s health care.
“While we understand the severity of the budget situation, we must urge the Governor and the Legislature to stand behind California’s most vulnerable children, and not abandon them when they truly need our help. No child should bear the brunt of these hard economic times, and the election should not be a deciding factor in the future of their health.”