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Report Finds Calif. Not Meeting Kids’ Health Care Needs

California is not adequately meeting the health care needs of children living in the state, according to a report by Children Now, the Contra Costa Times reports (Harrington, Contra Costa Times, 1/7).

Details of Report

The report examined indicators for children's health, education and welfare in California.

It ranked children's well-being by grades of A through F. For each of the 27 categories, the report offered a:

  • Grade;
  • Review of progress; and
  • Set of recommendations for action (Walters, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 1/7).


Overall, California scored:

  • 6 Bs;
  • 8 Cs; and
  • 13 Ds.

The state scored highest -- a B+ -- for children's health coverage because of the increased availability of public health insurance programs, according to the Times. However, the report notes that 78% of the state's 738,000 children who are eligible for such programs are not enrolled in coverage.

For other health indicators, the report gave the state grades of:

  • C- for developmental and behavioral health screenings;
  • C- for access to health care;
  • C- for health homes and care coordination;
  • C- for obesity;
  • D+ for oral health;
  • D+ for school-based health services;
  • D for home visits; and
  • D for mental health services (Contra Costa Times, 1/7).


The report recommends that California streamline eligibility and enrollment systems to make it easier for children in the state to obtain and maintain health coverage.

It also suggests that California:

  • "[D]ramatically expand funding" for early developmental and behavioral interventions;
  • Renew the federally funded California Home Visiting Program;
  • Increase Medi-Cal dentist reimbursement rates;
  • Establish a coordinated and comprehensive health home for every child;
  • Require health plans with which it contracts to make improvements in mental health service delivery and follow-up;
  • Create a public policy agenda to address the multitude of factors underlying childhood obesity and support a state tax on sweetened beverages; and
  • Ensure that critical behavioral and health screenings are available at schools (Children Now report, January 2014).


Ted Lempert, president of Children Now and a former state Assembly member, said, "The declining status of kids in California is the biggest threat to the health and economy of our state" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 1/7).

Jonathan Kaplan, a senior policy analyst for California Budget Project, said, "California is spending less dollars than other states per student ... [y]et it has more resources than the rest of the U.S., and its students present greater challenges than those in the rest of the U.S.," adding, "[W]e're not rising to the challenge that our population presents."

During an interview in 2013, California Superintendent Tom Torlakson said that making improvements in all of the categories in the report -- including by helping one million students gain coverage through Covered California -- are high priorities for the state in 2014 (Contra Costa Times, 1/7).

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