Budget Cuts to Pregnancy and Child Health Program Limits Access for Low-Income Women
Gov. Gray Davis' (D) funding cut for the Maternal and Child Health initiative in July has led to reduced access and a staffing shortage for MCH's 30 pregnancy and children's health programs for low-income women, especially in the state's smaller counties, the Sacramento Bee reports. Through the MCH initiative, administered by a director in every county and overseen by the state Department of Health Services, each county has up to 30 programs designed to assist low-income women with "pregnancy do's and don'ts," child care, abuse prevention and preventive treatments for children. The $2.6 million funding reduction for next year's budget -- which taken with the loss in federal matching dollars, amounts to an overall $7 million loss -- has not necessarily affected services, but has limited the initiative's ability to conduct outreach campaigns and home visitations to implement the programs, according to Kay Lehr, president of a state coalition of local MCH directors. Because of the loss in funding, the counties "will lose the person who works with doctors to make sure there are additional services for low-income women," she said, adding that small counties will be hurt the most because they are more dependent on state and federal funding. The Bee reports that the California March of Dimes and other advocacy organizations are pushing for legislation to restore the MCH funding (Butler, Sacramento Bee, 9/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.