Kids’ Insurance Funding Key to Universal Coverage
"To make universal coverage for children a reality in California, Congress must expand funding for [SCHIP] and give states flexibility to tailor their programs to local needs and conditions," David Carroll, research director of the California Budget Project, writes in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece.
Healthy Families -- California's State Children's Health Insurance Program -- "has been a major success," according to Carroll. The program has provided low-cost health care coverage to about 800,000 children in California, he writes.
However, California "cannot sustain this success, and build upon it, without help from Washington," according to Carroll.
The state will need $2 billion to $3 billion more in federal funding over the next five years, "assuming a low to moderate increase in enrollment and costs," Carroll writes. However, if reform plans by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) or legislative leaders were adopted, the amount could rise to more than $4 billion as more children are covered.
The "good news is that Congress has included an additional $50 billion for SCHIP over the next five years in its annual budget plan," according to Carroll. "The added funding won't be real, however, unless Congress now identifies a way to pay for it," he writes.
"Beyond providing sufficient funding, Congress can build on lessons from the past decade," according to Carroll. Lawmakers "should change the formulas used to divvy up money to reflect what states" such as California "need to continue to cover additional children," he writes.
Carroll concludes, "With the proper funding and the right policy changes in SCHIP, Congress has a chance to move California toward the goal shared by Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders: universal coverage for California's children" (Carroll, Sacramento Bee, 6/14).