CALIFORNIA: POSTPONES CHILDRENS’ HEALTH EXPANSION
California, with 1.6 million uninsured children, will waitThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
at least a year to access over $850 million in federal money for
an expansion of children's health insurance, Copley News
Service/San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The new federal funds
are part of the $4.3 billion KiddieCare program passed as part of
the balanced budget agreement. The federal money will become
available October 1 and states will have the option of creating
new programs to expand coverage or simply expanding their
existing Medicaid programs. California, however, has not
budgeted the required $460 million in state matching funds
necessary to receive the federal money. Copley/Union-Tribune
reports that California will not offer insurance under the
KiddieCare program until July 1, 1998 at the earliest.
Craig Brown, finance director for Gov. Pete Wilson (R),
said, "We're a big state and it's going to take a while to set
this up. A more likely scenario is that we could deal with this
... in the next budget process." Brown's "most optimistic"
estimate is that parents would be able to apply for the insurance
in May 1998. Wilson spokesperson Sean Walsh said, "We are not
going to rush forward with a program that is not well-developed."
San Diego County Health Director Dr. Robert Ross said, "I would
think that the state would not want to miss an entire year
without getting the kids covered, or getting some of the kids
covered at least."
Copley/Union-Tribune notes that most states "will opt to
expand" their existing Medicaid programs to provide the
children's health insurance. However, Gov. Wilson does not
support an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program,
because he dislikes the program's policy of accepting "all who
are eligible no matter what the state cost." As a result,
California will develop a new program in order to circumvent that
aspect of Medi-Cal (Wilkie, 8/24).