HEALTHY FAMILIES: Program Will Not Receive Free Federal Vaccines
The federal Health Care Financing Administration ruled yesterday that children in the state's Healthy Families program do not qualify for free, federally funded vaccines because they are neither uninsured nor in Medi-Cal. The ruling "dealt a serious blow" to "California's effort to create a new health insurance program for children of working poor families," the Contra Costa Times reports. Elizabeth McNeil of the California Medical Association said, "If we can't get this resolved, we have no program for California." Betsy Imholz, a lobbyist for Consumers Union, said, "The vaccine question -- however it's paid for -- has to be cleared up." However, HCFA "seemed to offer the state one possible way to solve the problem," the Contra Costa Times reports. The agency said that "[t]he state can buy vaccines at a discounted price from the federal government using a combination of state and federal money." This would mean that "the state might be able to vaccinate all children in the Health Families program while paying only about one-third of the cost."
That's Not All, Folks
Beyond the vaccine issue, HCFA also indicated that it had other problems with the program, "including its high administrative costs and the state's plan to let some coverage providers charge premiums that are above federal limits." In a letter to the state, HCFA said, "These issues are critical to plan approval. If we cannot reach agreement we will be forced to disapprove the plan as submitted" (Rarick, 3/18).