Healthy Kids Program Launches in San Luis Obispo County
The Children's Health Initiative on Thursday will launch the San Luis Obispo Healthy Kids program to help expand health, vision and dental coverage to the county's 3,000 uninsured children, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
Under the program, about 2,000 of the county's uninsured children will be enrolled in state programs such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families for which they currently are eligible. The program also will provide access to health care coverage with a monthly premium of $9 to the remaining 1,000 children.
The program, which will cost about $1.2 million annually, has received funding from a variety of sources, including the county government, the county First Five commission, the California HealthCare Foundation and the Blue Shield of California Foundation.
Enrollment in the program will begin May 1, and coverage will begin in July. The organization behind the program hopes to sign up 40% of eligible children this year, 60% in 2006 and 85% in 2007.
The program is similar to programs that have been implemented in at least eight other counties in the state. One such program in Santa Clara County expanded health care coverage to 12,000 children and qualified for about $25 million in additional federal provider reimbursement funds.
Joel Diringer, a commissioner with First Five San Luis Obispo County, noted the increasing number of grassroots health care initiatives in the state and said, "There's very little innovation happening at the federal or state level, but there's a large trend toward local solutions." Diringer said state lawmakers have placed a higher priority on restraining spending than on providing coverage for the uninsured. He added, "There is something we can do about it. We're looking globally at a national problem but acting locally to help the kids."
Rene Bravo, president of the Healthy Kids' board, said, "There are numbers that show that with every dollar spent in preventive care you save $5 to $10 down the line in costs. We have to see that investing in children and their health will ultimately be in the best interest of the community" (Welton, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 2/10).