HEALTHY FAMILIES: Gray’s Budget Would Expand Eligibility
Gov. Gray Davis Friday unveiled his budget proposal, which includes a $2.7 million provision that would extend Healthy Families to an additional 50,000 children. The Los Angeles Times reports that Democratic leaders support the provision, which would move the program's income ceiling from 200% to 250% of the federal poverty level "by permitting families to deduct child care and other work-related expenses when calculating their income." Former Gov. Pete Wilson included a similar provision in his original plan for Healthy Families, but it was stripped when Assembly Republicans objected. Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) said the new proposal "is one of several changes Democrats hope to make in an attempt to encourage more families to participate in the Healthy Families program." National Center for Youth Law attorney Lucy Quacinella said, "This (budget proposal) now allows California to realize the benefit of additional federal funds that have just been sitting in limbo and not been put to work for children and families." The Times reports that only 56,723 of the expected 330,000 children have enrolled in the program (Ellis, 1/9). Click here for recent CHL coverage of Healthy Families.
Other Health Initiatives
In his budget proposal, Davis also included $500,000 for "new positions and programs within the state Department of Health Services to keep track of infectious diseases that cross the U.S.-Mexico border and other health issues concerning the two nations." Assemblywoman Denise Moreno Ducheny (D-San Diego) said she plans to reintroduce a bill that would create a "separate border health office" this year. Another budget provision calls for $14.6 million for the 400-bed Chula Vista veterans home. The funding would allow the facility to hire the 125 workers it needs to open what would become the "second state veterans home in Southern California." The San Diego Union-Tribune reports, however, that Davis' $77.5 billion budget has yet to address a "potential $2.3 billion shortfall" in revenue (Ainsworth, 1/9).