Coalition Calls for Expanded Children’s Health Coverage
A coalition representing more than 200 religious and children's health organizations on Thursday urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to extend health coverage to every uninsured child in California, the Fresno Bee reports (Schultz, Fresno Bee, 12/1).
Coalition leaders said the state would have to pay $380 million annually to cover the 700,000 uninsured children in the state, assuming that the state would receive two additional dollars from the federal government for every one dollar it spends on the effort.
Kim Belshé, secretary of Health and Human Services Agency, said that the premise of receiving federal matching funds at that rate is a "very significant assumption" (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 12/1).
Some estimates indicate that about 10% of the state's uninsured children are undocumented immigrants. Republican lawmakers on Wednesday said they would continue to oppose any measure that expands health coverage to undocumented immigrants (Shaw, Stockton Record, 12/1).
Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers in June proposed to fund county children's health insurance programs that cover undocumented immigrant children. However, the $23 million proposal was removed from the state budget after Republican lawmakers refused to support a budget that would allow undocumented immigrant children to receive public health insurance benefits (California Healthline, 6/27).
Supporters of expanding coverage say that these children already use emergency departments, which costs more than a preventive care plan would cost.
Morgan Crinklaw, a spokesperson for Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines (R-Fresno), said that Republican lawmakers are drafting their own children's health insurance proposal (Stockton Record, 12/1).
Legislation that would approve funding for a health care reform plan will need support from some Republican legislators to pass (California Healthline, 11/30).
Schwarzenegger on Jan. 9 is expected to unveil his health care reform plans during his State of the State address (Sacramento Bee, 12/1).
Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" on Friday reported on a poll this year by the United Ways of California that finds that more than 80% of likely voters support universal health insurance for children. The segment includes comments from Judy Darnell, state advocacy coordinator for United Ways Covering California's Children (Russ, ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 12/1).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.
In addition, KQED's "This Week in Northern California" on Friday will include a discussion of Schwarzenegger's health care proposals.
Guests on the program will include Scott Shafer, host and correspondent of KQED's "The California Report" (Davis, "This Week in Northern California," KQED, 12/1).
A podcast of the program is available online.