HEALTHY FAMILIES: A Good Start, But Long Way To Go
An editorial in today's Los Angeles Times says the "picture brightens today" for juvenile health care "as California enrolls the first members in Healthy Families" (see related story). The piece notes that rather than simply expanding Medicaid, Gov. Pete Wilson created Healthy Families as an "employer-style, not welfare-style" program complete with small monthly premiums and copays for services. While the editorial lauds Wilson for realizing much of his anti-welfare vision, it says "the bigger issue is that coverage should be extended to more children."
The Times agrees with Wilson's belief that simply extending Healthy Families' eligibility to those earning, say, 400% of the poverty level would "discourage employers from offering health insurance." But, the editorial argues, "if the administration is going to rule out broadening eligibility, it should find other ways of expanding employer-based insurance: working with the federal government, for example, to loosen regulations so some of the funding can be used as a boost for employer health plans." Further, the Times calls on the state to extend the Medi-Cal program to the 660,000 children eligible but not enrolled in the program "for various reasons" (7/1).