HEALTHY FAMILIES: Children’s Organizations Tout 100% Coverage
With tomorrow marking the beginning of the state's Healthy Families program, a coalition of children's advocates today announced the formation of the "100% Campaign: Health Insurance for Every California Child." Under the initiative, the Children's Defense Fund, the Children's Partnership and Children Now, using funding from the California Endowment, will work with business, community and education leaders to make sure that all eligible children are enrolled either in Medi- Cal or Healthy Families. They will also work to ensure that additional steps are taken to provide health coverage to all uninsured children. The initiative will have two parts: An aggressive outreach component and the development and support of policy changes to insure the approximately 670,000 children who have no coverage (release, 6/30).
The Time Is Now
In a commentary in today's Los Angeles Times, Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Partnership Director Wendy Lazarus and Children Now President Lois Salisbury write that the Healthy Families program is a "good start," but "[d]ifficult challenges lie ahead." They note that Healthy Families' success depends on "getting the word out to the families of more than 1 million uninsured children -- 11% of all children in the state" -- especially Latino children and children in Southern California. However, they contend that many facets of Healthy Families could deter families from signing up, including the lengthy application process (28 pages) and high copaymemts and premiums. In addition, they note, there needs to be more "continuity and cohesion" between Medi-Cal and Health Families. For instance, while Healthy Families enrollees will receive a full year of coverage, Medi-Cal enrollees must re-enroll on a quarterly basis.
Going For The Goal
"Our goal should be to become the first state to provide 100% of its uninsured children with the health coverage they need and deserve," the children's advocates write. To do that, they recommend that the state make the application shorter and simpler and change the quarterly registration process so children could "be covered for a full year before families need to file more paperwork." And they note that at current eligibility levels for the program, one-third of California's children are still left uninsured. However, "federal funds are available to extend coverage" to families making three times the federal poverty level -- $40,950 for a family of three -- which will help meet the goal of covering all uninsured children in the state. Another way they recommend covering 100% of the state's children is offering incentives to employers and health insurance plans to cover children (6/30). More information about the 100% Campaign is available at www.100percentcampaign.org (release, 6/30).