San Mateo County To Offer Children’s Health Insurance Program Modeled After Santa Clara County Initiative
The San Mateo County Children and Families First Commission plans to use funds from its share of Proposition 10 tobacco taxes for a new initiative that would "guarantee health care" to all children in the county until age six, regardless of immigration status or household income, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The program will target children who often seek treatment in emergency rooms for "easily preventable illnesses" that have progressed because their families, who earn too much to qualify for public health programs but too little to pay for private health insurance, are forced to defer treatment. According to the Mercury News, the commission plans to model the program after Santa Clara County's Children's Health Initiative, the first such initiative in the country designed to provide universal care for children (de Sa, San Jose Mercury News, 3/8). Santa Clara's program enrolls children in either Medi-Cal, Healthy Families or the Healthy Kids plan, administered by the Santa Clara Family Health Plan, an HMO that also covers Medi-Cal and Healthy Families beneficiaries. The Healthy Kids plan covers uninsured children whose families are undocumented immigrants or have annual incomes up to three times the federal poverty level and cannot qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families. Participants in the programs receive comprehensive coverage, and some pay small premiums and copayments on a sliding scale. Premiums and copayments are waived for families that cannot afford them (California Healthline, 7/31/01). Kris Perry, executive director of San Mateo's commission, said, "Our goal is ultimately that kids are ready for school, that they reach the age of six as healthy and prepared as they can be." The Mercury News reports that approximately 24,000 children in San Mateo County are uninsured, and about 7,000 would be eligible for the new program (San Jose Mercury News, 3/8).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.