Is Children’s Health Coverage the Starting Point?
As the months-long debate continues in Sacramento over how to pay for an overhaul to California's health care system and who exactly would be covered, a study released this week by a California not-for-profit group raised an urgent question: If the current health care system remains intact, how would children be affected?
The study exposed the challenges that children in rural California counties face in obtaining both health coverage and quality care. Children living in cities, on the other hand, enjoy greater access to low-cost medical services.
So how might the many health care reform proposals pending in Sacramento address this troubling problem?
Assembly speaker Fabian Núñez's (D-Los Angeles) health care reform bill (AB 8) would cover all of California's children.
Similarly, a measure (AB 1) by Assembly members John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton) would provide coverage to nearly all uninsured children by expanding eligibility for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, California's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. A Senate version of the Laird/Dymally measure (SB 32) by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) is under consideration in the Assembly. Both pieces of legislation would delete citizenship and immigration status requirements.
Assembly Minority leader Mike Villines (R-Clovis) gave perhaps the best indication that children's health care coverage remains a priority, acknowledging that Republicans do not support Democrats' health care reform proposals, except for a provision that would guarantee health care coverage to children.
As this debate grinds on, the Legislature this week took action on other bills, including a measure to allow nursing homes to admit hospice patients and legislation seeking to expand the use of telemedicine.