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State Urged To Spend New CHIP Money Only on Children’s Health Care

California is in line to receive as much as $550 million a year for two years in federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, thanks to the Medicare vote this week in the U.S. Senate.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is expected to include between $450 million and $550 million of CHIP money in his revised California budget proposal next month. Advocates are pushing for that money to be earmarked only for children’s health care.

In a joint statement released Wednesday, representatives of children’s advocacy groups said the money is meant to provide health care for lower-income children and pregnant women whose families earn too little to pay for coverage but too much to qualify for Medi-Cal. Roughly a million Californians qualify for CHIP funding.

“CHIP is literally a life changer for more than one million children and pregnant women in California,” said Anna Hasselblad with California Coverage & Health Initiatives. “Together, we must ensure no child loses ground.”

Alex Johnson, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund California, said the money can be used to help children in the Medi-Cal program.

“More than half — over five million — of all California children are enrolled in Medi-Cal and this is a tremendous opportunity for Gov. Brown and the Legislature to prioritize the health of our children by making sure this money does what it was intended to do — improve children’s ability to access and receive quality health care,” Johnson said.

The May budget revision is due in mid-May from the governor.

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