CALIFORNIA: HEALTH PROGRAMS FAIL TO ENROLL CHILDREN
"With reforms enacted last year, California has anThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
unprecedented opportunity to fill gaping holes in children's
health insurance coverage -- but the state must do a far better
job reaching out to families, especially the working poor,"
according to a report being released today by the UCLA Center for
Health Policy Research. The Los Angeles Times reports the study
found that although the state's Medi-Cal expansion and its
Healthy Families program could potentially insure "two-thirds of
the state's 1.7 million children currently without coverage,"
there still exist "substantial obstacles [that] may prevent
families from taking advantage of their youngsters' eligibility."
In addition, nearly 500,000 uninsured children and five million
uninsured adults will not qualify for coverage under either of
the programs. According to E. Richard Brown, the lead author of
the report, the programs have "tremendous potential to go a long
way toward helping to solve problems for the uninsured, but there
are things we need to do" to ensure they work. Brown said,
"widespread, aggressive outreach is vital, through community
groups, public education forums and schools" because many
families are not aware of their eligibility for the programs. In
addition, "some immigrants fear being deported" and others want
to "avoid the stigma of welfare," he said. According to state
officials, California is already addressing many of the concerns
in the report. However, Brown said, "I believe the state is very
serious about doing effective outreach and enrollment, but
sometimes these bureaucratic barriers arise that need to be
knocked down" (Marquis, 1/8).