Tulare County Children’s Health Initiative Seeks To Enroll 15,000 Uninsured Children in State Health Insurance Programs
The Tulare County Children's Health Initiative plans to use state grants and revenue from tobacco taxes to fund an outreach program to enroll the county's 15,000 eligible uninsured children in state-funded health insurance programs, the Fresno Bee reports. Tulare CHI Coordinator Brooke Frost on Tuesday told the county Board of Supervisors that without the outreach effort, the number of children in the county who lack health insurance throughout the year could reach 23,660.
CHI launched its program in July, and health officials sought to publicize the effort by visiting the county's eight Women, Infants and Children sites. About 10,000 of the county's children qualify for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, and the remaining 5,000 children could receive health insurance through the Healthy Kids program, which will be launched countywide in July 2005. Frost said county CHI hopes to enroll 1,750 children in Healthy Kids during the first year of the program.
Although other counties, such as Santa Clara, have started similar programs, "Tulare County is further along" with its program than other counties in the area, Frost said. However, Frost noted, "There are several obstacles to doing this," including undocumented immigrants who are reluctant to enroll their children in government programs. "They think it will jeopardize their chances of staying here," Frost said, adding, "The children qualify for the programs, and they have every right" to be enrolled in them.
According to Frost, the board in December likely will have a final CHI plan on which to hold a vote. She said that county CHI programs would cost the county about $3 million annually (Plemons, Fresno Bee, 11/3).