The Clock is Ticking: 63,000 Children Lose Access to Health Coverage in One Month
A Total of 1 Million Will Lose Coverage This Year if Budget Cuts to Healthy Families Are Not Restored
August 21, 2009 Los Angeles, CA
A recent meeting of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB), the agency that oversees the Healthy Families Program, brought little good news for children who depend on the program. Irresponsible budget cuts by the Legislature and Governor left Healthy Families with a $194 million shortfall. While First 5 California stepped up and committed $81.4 million to help address the funding shortfall, it was not enough for MRMIB to stop denying access to new enrollments or to forgo plans to begin disenrolling children from Healthy Families on October 1. It is estimated that 1 million children could be denied access to coverage this year unless sufficient funding is found to avoid waitlists and disenrollments.
"While the Healthy Families waitlist has been in place for just one month, 63,000 children have already been denied access to health coverage." said Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways of California. "We know the situation is only going to get worse if MRMIB begins disenrolling children from the program on October 1. The clock is really ticking for the Legislature and Governor to come up with a plan to save this critical program and health coverage for 1 million California children."
Healthy Families provides health coverage for almost 1 million children whose parents work hard, but cannot afford health insurance and do not qualify for Medi-Cal. The cuts enacted by the Governor and Legislature will decimate the program. Destroying the Healthy Families Program will have devastating impacts for children - some will get sick and some could even die.
Manzo further said, "The real irony is that these cuts have the potential to cause irreparable harm to our children without saving the General Fund money. When children lose insurance, they don't stop getting sick, they just end up seeking more costly care in emergency rooms where they are guaranteed to be seen. This raises costs for all taxpayers and health care consumers.
"And, because California receives $2 from the federal government for every $1 we invest in Healthy Families, our Governor and Legislature have effectively given away $360 million in federal funds to other states that we desperately need here in California.
"United Ways of California believes the Legislature and Governor are ultimately responsible for funding Healthy Families and they have shown a lack of leadership to protect vulnerable children. It is irresponsible and shameful There is still time for them to step up and prioritize our children before any more go without needed health care."