Low Enrollment in Public Health Programs Leaves Government Funds Unspent, Prompts Outreach Efforts
"Millions" in state and federal funds intended to assist low-income Californians are going unspent because a "majority of people eligible to receive help aren't applying for it," the Contra Costa Times reports. Healthy Families is one of the "most underused aid programs" in the state, with as many as two-thirds of eligible children not enrolled. Reasons cited for the underutilization range from stigma to cumbersome application processes. In addition, some people are unaware that the aid exists, the Times reports. Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President Larry Levitt said, "Lack of information is clearly one of the overarching themes. People can't enroll into something they don't know about." The low enrollment "has meant a loss of $341 million in unused federal funding over the past three years," the Times reports. Alameda County Health Care Director Dave Kears said, "The concern is (federal lawmakers) are going to use the fact that there is some money still on the table as a justification for not acting on their commitment to provide insurance to children." To "promote under-used services and enroll more people," California has launched several "multimillion-dollar efforts," including one directed toward Healthy Families. In response to a $16 million statewide television and billboard advertising campaign, Healthy Families enrollment increased from 275,000 children in March 2000 to 420,000 children in March 2001. Gov. Gray Davis (D) also has included $6 million in his fiscal year 2002 budget for additional community-based outreach efforts (Chang, Contra Costa Times, 5/1).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.