Press-Enterprise Looks at Options for Children Who Do Not Qualify for Public Health Plans
The Riverside Press-Enterprise today examines two health insurance programs for children who do not qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families but cannot afford private health insurance. Riverside County's Healthy Kids program aims to provide medical, dental and vision coverage to 6,000 of the county's 13,000 uninsured children who are undocumented immigrants. Approximately 600 children are enrolled in the program thus far. The program charges an enrollment fee of $5 for parents who enroll in the program with a physician in Riverside County's health care system and $20 for those who enroll with a doctor outside of the county's health system. Advocates say the program could improve access to care for uninsured children, divert such children from "overcrowded" emergency rooms and reduce "the burden" on the county's indigent care system. Further, the program could save money by detecting and addressing potential developmental problems in uninsured children, according to Carolyn Wylie, executive director of the Riverside County Children and Families Commission, which donated $2 million toward the program. But Larry Brown, a member of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, said, "This is wrong. ... The more benefits you give illegal aliens, the more illegal immigrants you will have."
The Press-Enterprise also profiles efforts by San Bernardino County's Children and Families Commission officials, who are considering a program to offer health coverage to uninsured children under age five in families with annual incomes between 250% and 300% of the federal poverty level. According to Don Larkin, executive director of the commission, about 2,200 children in the county would qualify. San Bernardino's program would not cover children who are undocumented immigrants. The Press-Enterprise reports that the commission expects to put the program in place by January (Beeman/Garcia, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/7).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.