State Should Improve Efforts to Provide Health Coverage for Low-Income Infants, Advocate Writes
"Byzantine" state regulations on infant enrollment in Medi-Cal have led to a "baby gap," in which most low-income infants in the state lack health insurance, Lucy Quacinella, a consultant with Maternal and Child Health Access, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. Although the state "should be proud" of efforts to provide health coverage for residents, many infants "have been bypassed," Quacinella writes. She adds that the new "gateways to health insurance" program established by Gov. Gray Davis (D) -- a program scheduled to take effect in July that seeks to enroll uninsured children in Medi-Cal through certain health care providers -- will "clang the door shut on babies." The program does not "automatically" enroll infants in Medi-Cal at birth, and as a result, many infants could lose coverage the month after their first visit to a physician "because of more red tape to continue coverage," Quacinella writes. The state must "fix the glitches" in Medi-Cal enrollment rules for infants and begin programs in which women could leave hospitals with health coverage for their infants "in hand" to prevent a "cycle of missed opportunity" for children, she adds. Quacinella concludes, "The state is facing record budget deficits. But the fiscal and other costs of not doing anything are far greater than the small sum needed to fix the baby-health insurance gap" (Quacinella, Los Angeles Times, 1/4).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.