Davis Plan to Eliminate Child Health Program Would Leave 900,000 State Children Without Services
More than 900,000 California children would lose access to free health care services on July 1 under a provision in Gov. Gray Davis' (D) fiscal year 2003 budget proposal that would eliminate a $70 million health care program, the Oakland Tribune reports. The Child Health and Disability Prevention Program, established in 1973, provides free childhood vaccinations, physical examinations, dental care, smoking cessation programs and some laboratory tests to children in families with annual incomes up to 200% of the poverty level. Individual counties determine the level of coverage for prescription drugs and medical treatment under the program. "Basically the administration has proposed eliminating a public health infrastructure and not putting anything in its place," Amy Dominguez-Arms, vice president of Children Now, an Oakland advocacy group, said. The California Medical Association also opposes Davis' plan to eliminate the program.
Children's advocates say that Davis "viewed the program as duplicating" health services provided under Medi-Cal and Healthy Families. However, according to Children Now, only 120,000 children enrolled in the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program would qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families (Bohan, Oakland Tribune, 2/22). A report released yesterday by the Legislative Analyst's Office found that the governor's plan to eliminate the program does not address the "impact on community health clinics and access to care for children" enrolled in the program who do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families (LAO, "Analysis of the 2002-03 Budget Bill, 2/20). Davis proposed an additional $17.5 million for the Expanded Access to Primary Care Program, which reimburses some community health clinics for uninsured care, to "soften the blow" for children who do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, but that "isn't enough to provide care to those who will lose health services if the health and prevention program is eliminated," Dominguez-Arms said. Hilary McLean, a Davis spokesperson, said that the governor has met with advocacy groups to discuss "unintended consequences" of his plan to eliminate the program. She said that Davis will consider a "range of options for ensuring that children in the program don't lose access to health care" and may restore funding for the program (Oakland Tribune, 2/22).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.