Panel Approves Bill Designed To Keep Kids in Healthy Families
On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure (AB 1422) designed to prevent more than 500,000 children from losing coverage under Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The bill aims to restore funding losses after a July budget revision package and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) line-item vetoes cut about $178 million from Healthy Families.
To offset those cuts, AB 1422 would require all participating families to pay higher copayments for services. Some families also would be subject to higher premiums for the program.
The proposal also depends on an $81 million contribution from the First 5 California Commission, which oversees early childhood health and education programs.
Taxing Health Plans
In addition, the measure would impose a 2% gross premiums tax on health plans that administer benefits for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Although such companies already pay a 5% gross premiums tax, that levy is set to end Oct. 1 because it does not meet federal regulations.
The California Association of Health Plans, which represents the businesses that would be taxed under AB 1422, supports the measure.
Tax increases require a two-thirds majority vote in both houses, meaning that the measure will need support from at least some Republican lawmakers.
The measure garnered approval from all Democratic committee members and most Republican members. One Republican member voted against the proposal and one was absent from the vote.
SchwarzeneggerÂ also supports the proposal, according to spokesperson Rachel Cameron. The measure now goes to the full Senate (Ferriss, Sacramento Bee, 8/28).
MRMIB Suspends Disenrollment Plans
Last month, budget strain compelled the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board to freeze enrollment for Healthy Families. Later, the board voted to begin dropping children from the program on Oct. 1 (California Healthline, 8/20).
Although MRMIB originally planned to begin sending disenrollment notices next week, the board on Thursday decided to postpone its plans for a month (Sacramento Bee, 8/28).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.