KERN COUNTY: Suspends Program for Uninsured Kids
After expenses rose twice as fast as had been expected, Kern County's Public Health Department suspended a program that provides a medical safety net for uninsured children, many of whom do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families. The health department exhausted its $500,000 in treatment funding last month, and warned local doctors and clinics that the program would remain suspended until July. Though health care providers can continue to assess uninsured children, they cannot provide treatment under terms of the suspension. The state Department of Health Services is responsible for administering the funding from the Child Health and Disability Prevention program, and has said it will monitor the situation but will not intervene "unless it sees the shortfall has compromised care." Kern County said children who need care should go to Kern Medical Center or sign up for Healthy Families. But Jasim Aljawad, medical director of National Health Services, a local clinic network, "said he is referring patients to Healthy Families and Medi-Cal but that not all qualify for either program." Steve Schilling, executive director of Clinica Sierra Vista, said obtaining dental care for children has been the biggest problem (Bedell, Bakersfield Californian, 1/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.