KAISER PERMANENTE: UNVEILS PLAN TO INSURE CHILDREN
"With President Clinton cheering them on, Kaiser PermanenteThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
health care officials" announced yesterday "a $100 million plan
to subsidize medical treatment for needy children in California
over the next several years." Kaiser Chairman David Lawrence
said that the "commitment could improve health care for up to
50,000 low-income children a year"
(Peterson/Rohrlich/Corwin/Gold, Los Angeles Times, 6/24). He
added, "President Clinton has called for action on the issue, and
as the state's largest not-for-profit health care organization,
Kaiser Permanente is stepping up to make the first move." Kaiser
plans to expand the program nationwide in 1999 "with an
additional $30 million a year," San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Under the program, Kaiser "will work with the state, small
companies and schools to seek out children who are uninsured and
allow their families to enroll them for full benefits under the
HMO at subsidized rates based on the family's income." Kaiser
will also "launch an aggressive outreach program to identify
children who are eligible for Medi-Cal and help enroll them in
the state program." The Kaiser plan, which will be voluntary,
will cover low-income children through age 18, "with parents and
their employers picking up between 25% and 75% of the tab and
Kaiser the rest." Chronicle reports that about 835,000 uninsured
California children in families who earn too much to qualify for
Medi-Cal coverage. Another 630,000 children qualify for Medi-Cal
"but are not enrolled because of language barriers and
uncertainty about how the process works" (King/Yoachum, 6/24).
Clinton said of the Kaiser plan, "Too many children here in
California, some children in this crowd today -- don't have
health insurance. We are here today because Kaiser Permanente is
going to make a major change in that for you in California. We
want to congratulate them, but even more important, we ought to
be here to resolve to do better" (Times, 6/24). He added, "This
health care initiative is very important ... because it makes a
statement on the edge of the 21st century that we are not going
to leave our children behind. As a citizen, don't give up until
every child gets the health care they need. I cannot thank
Kaiser enough not only for doing this but for the challenge to
others to do the same. With 50,000 children here and 50,000
there, that could be a lot of children" (Chronicle, 6/24). Times
reports that Clinton "employed unusually strong language in
defense of his health care goals, alluding to an issue that
proved an embarrassing fiasco in his first term." He said, "I
tried hard to enact a plan that would give all American working
families health insurance, and it's well known that I failed.
But I'm not ashamed that I tried" (6/24).