Despite First 5 Donation, Healthy Families Will End Kids’ Coverage
On Thursday, the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board voted to begin disenrolling children from Healthy Families starting Oct. 1, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Healthy Families is California's Children's Health Insurance Program.
The move to begin dropping enrollees comes despite an announcement that Healthy Families would receive $81.4 million from the First 5 California Commission, which administers the proceeds of a state tobacco tax increase for early childhood health and education programs (McGreevy/Halper, Los Angeles Times, 8/14).
Lesley Cummings, MRMIB executive director, praised the donation but said the funds were not sufficient to maintain coverage for all enrollees. Cummings said the program would need nearly $92 million to delay disenrollment even for one month.
In addition, the First 5 funding would target only children younger than age five.
The commission said its contribution would help maintain Healthy Families coverage for 200,000 infants and children.
Without First 5's donation, MRMIB predicted that it would need to remove nearly 670,000 children from its current enrollment of more than 922,000 (Sherwood, Ventura County Star, 8/13).
Ginny Puddefoot, MRMIB's deputy director of health policy, said that on Oct. 1, Healthy Families will begin disenrolling children whose one-year anniversary in the program occurs in September.
She added that the board would provide 30 days' written notice for affected families.
Puddefoot also said MRMIB is searching for additional funding to prevent Healthy Families from dropping enrollees.
The board plans to discuss restructuring options and other alternatives to disenrollment at a meeting next Thursday (Van Oot, Sacramento Bee, 8/14).
Puddefoot said the board voted to reduce Healthy Families coverage because the program cannot run a deficit (Ventura County Star, 8/13).
The program currently is facing major financial strain as a result of recent budget cuts. Last month, the Legislature passed a budget revision package that cut $128.6 million from Healthy Families. In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) used line-item vetoes to eliminate an additional $50 million from the program (Sacramento Bee, 8/14).
In response, MRMIB voted in July to freeze enrollment for Healthy Families.
As of Tuesday, 55,202 children were on the waiting list for the program (Ventura County Star, 8/13).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.