State, County Children’s Commissions Announce Effort To Expand Children’s Health Coverage
State and county children's commissions on Wednesday are scheduled to announce a new $46.5 million program funded by cigarette taxes that would extend health insurance to children ages five and younger whose families have annual incomes of up to 300% of the federal poverty level, regardless of their immigration status, the Sacramento Bee reports. The program, called Healthy Kids, would expand coverage to some children who do not qualify for coverage under Healthy Families. The program's funding would come from a 50-cent cigarette tax to benefit children's programs approved under Proposition 10 in 1998. First 5 California, the state commission created to spend the tax revenues, would spend $1 for every $4 that counties spend on health insurance through funds obtained by local cigarette tax revenues. The announcement comes as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) prepares to release his revised budget Thursday, which may include measures he outlined in his January budget proposal to cap enrollment in Healthy Families and overhaul Medi-Cal. The Bee notes that because Healthy Families provides health coverage to children in families with annual incomes up to $39,000 per year for a family of three, "counties could find themselves providing Healthy Kids insurance to children whose families make more money while poorer children are put on waiting lists for Healthy Families" (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 5/12).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.