ORANGE COUNTY: Hospitals Team Up to Insure Low-Income Kids
In an effort to chip away at Orange County's 22,000 uninsured children yet to enroll in Healthy Families, five local hospitals are rolling out a $500,000 health plan for 2,000 children from low-income families, including illegal immigrants, the Orange County Register reports. Hospital officials estimate that lagging enrollment in Healthy Families is due to legal immigrants' fears that enrollment will invoke "federal laws [that] prohibit immigrants who are considered a drain on public funds from becoming citizens" as well as its exclusion of illegal immigrants. "There's a perception in the community that it's dangerous to sign up for Healthy Families," said Larry Ainsworth, president and CEO of St. Joseph Health System's Southern California region, adding, "The new program is not a government program. It has no potential baggage." Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, which initiated the plan, is contributing $250,000 while St. Joseph Hospital, Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center and St. Jude Medical Center are collectively providing an additional $250,000; Children's Hospital of Orange Country will supply most of the doctors (Kowalczyk, 5/18). The program, which accepts children ages two to 18 whose families' income does not exceed three times the federal poverty level ($50,000), will be administered by CaliforniaKids, a nonprofit organization that provides health insurance in 33 counties and will offer medical, dental and vision benefits. A team of 70 volunteers and employees are currently launching enrollment efforts at schools, clinics, churches and community centers ( Orange County Register, Kowalczyk, 5/18).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.