HEALTHY FAMILIES: Enrollment Is Still Slow
Less than 2% of the 580,000 children eligible for the Healthy Families program have enrolled, according to the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which runs the program. State officials expected as many as 61,000 enrollees by the end of August, but currently the rolls boast a meager 8,400 names. Healthy Families administrators hope the numbers will "improve with the start of the new school year," because several school "districts are sending Healthy Families pamphlets home with every student." But critics charge that the 28-page application is "complex" and contains "intimidating questions about immigration status." They urge the state to expand coverage to more children, reduce co-payments and relax immigration rules lest the state fail to meet its enrollment targets and "risk los[ing] federal funding." However, the "governor has indicated he will not sign any bills" changing the program this year, the Sacramento Bee reports. State health officials claim "that it's too early to label the program a failure, citing more than 100,000 telephone inquiries." A principal in the ad agency that is promoting the program noted that "it takes time for a brand new program to catch on, even with aggressive promotions." But state Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) said, "Something is broken with the Healthy Families program. If we are not enrolling children of the working poor in health care, the program is nothing more than a press release" (Griffith, 8/28).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.