100% CAMPAIGN: Children’s Health Groups Propose Outreach Plan
A 'Strategic Audit' issued by the 100% Campaign today laid out a plan to provide health insurance coverage to all the state's 670,000 uninsured children. The campaign called on the state's government, business and community leaders to take action to provide health insurance to every uninsured child in California by 2001. Wendy Lazarus, director of The Children's Partnership, said, "The fundamental building blocks are in place and the funding is available to provide health coverage to every child in the state." She added, "There is no single magic bullet, but if we work together, this important step for the health of children is within our reach."
It's A Plan
The plan was developed by The Children's Partnership in cooperation with the Children's Defense Fund and Children Now. The groups' proposal is based on a six-month analysis involving more than 70 health and business leaders in California and includes the following recommendations:
- Make Medi-Cal and Healthy Families work effectively for the state's uninsured children -- the audit proposes a vigorous outreach campaign, a clear statement from the Immigration and Naturalization Service assuring families that enrollment will not affect immigration status and a streamlined application process.
- Extend Healthy Families -- the group suggests expanding the program to children with family incomes 200-300% above the federal poverty level and also discusses provisions to extend the program to cover uninsured parents.
- Establish health care solutions for higher income families -- the audit proposes that Healthy Families could allow families with incomes above 300% of the poverty level to buy into the program or expand private sector strategies to provide subsidized coverage.
- Strengthen safety net programs for homeless, migrant and undocumented children -- the group encourages strengthening programs that currently provide services to these populations. They also suggest the creation of a Safety Net Fund using tobacco settlement funds.
- Embark on a vigorous public education campaign about the importance of insurance -- the audit emphasizes that multilingual education of parents is a key step to increase health coverage to children, especially teen parents and those in immigrant communities.
The authors of the audit say that the $2.5 billion in federal funds allotted to the children's health insurance program in California, combined with the expected $23 billion over 25 years from the tobacco settlement, would sufficiently fund health coverage for all of the state's uninsured children. "While providing health insurance to all California children is possible, we have a limited window of opportunity to draw down available federal funds and get the job done," said Lois Salisbury, president of Children Now, who noted that unused funds will revert to the federal government. Deena Lahn, California Health Policy Director of the Children's Defense Fund added, "The goal of reaching 100% of California's kids with health coverage is achievable, affordable and long overdue. What is required now is for the various stakeholders to work together in unprecedented ways toward this common goal" (100% Campaign release, 9/17). The audit is available on line at www.100percentcampaing.org.