Santa Clara County Children’s Insurance Program Enrolls 15,000 Children in First Seven Months
Since January, more than 15,000 Santa Clara County children have been enrolled in one of three public health insurance programs through the county's Children's Health Initiative, which aims to provide coverage to all county children, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The initiative's goal is to cover the county's estimated 70,000 children ages 19 and younger who lack insurance and is the "first real test of whether universal health care for children can work," the Mercury News reports. On average, more than 100 children are enrolled in the program's health plans each weekday. Bob Brownstein, public policy director for the labor-affiliated group Working Partnerships USA, said, "The numbers are stupendous. It's not just that we're doing outreach well and signing people up. The program is working and people are getting medical care." Through the initiative, children are enrolled 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, or $52,956 for a family of four, 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 who cannot afford them. The $14 million program uses $3 million in the county's tobacco settlement funds, $2 million from the commission that controls state tobacco tax money, $1.4 million from the city of San Jose and $1 million from the Santa Clara Family Health Plan. County officials "hope" private donations will make up the remaining $7 million per year. With healthy enrollment figures, the "only worry now is whether the recent economic downturn in Silicon Valley will slow private funding for the program at the same time rising joblessness is likely to drive up the number of children who need coverage," the Mercury News reports (Guido, San Jose Mercury News, 7/30).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.