California Children at Risk of Losing Health Insurance Coverage
Thousands of California children could lose health insurance coverage in the coming months as a result of changes in Medi-Cal rules and decreased funding for local efforts that have provided coverage to children, the Los Angeles Times reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
State lawmakers will require parents of children enrolled in Medi-Cal to renew their enrollment every six months.
The administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) projects that the requirement will contribute to a drop in Medi-Cal enrollment over the next two years of about 196,000 children.
State lawmakers also have increased monthly premiums for Healthy Families, California's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, by $2 to $3 per child.
As a result, the state estimates that the parents of 19,000 children no longer will receive coverage through the program by July 2009.
The changes to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families were approved as part of a larger effort to address the state budget deficit.
Beyond changes to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families rules, children also could lose coverage because of funding challenges faced by local initiatives operating in 30 counties. The efforts target children who are ineligible for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families because of income or citizenship requirements.
The initiatives are funded largely by private philanthropies and local First 5 commissions, which disburse funds from a state tobacco tax for early childhood health care and education efforts.
Wendy Lazarus, co-president of the advocacy group Children's Partnership, estimates that enrollment in the efforts has dropped by 8,000 over the past two years (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 8/24).