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September 16, 2008

California Legislature Drops Some Health Cuts From Budget

Early this morning, the California Legislature approved a budget proposal for fiscal year 2008-2009 that avoided some cuts to health care and other programs, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Democrats widely opposed the proposed cuts (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 9/16).

The proposal does not eliminate dental services for adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries or impose new restrictions on Medi-Cal services for undocumented immigrants. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Halper/Rau, Los Angeles Times, 9/16).

Beyond those already introduced by Senate Democrats, the budget agreement does not include cuts to California health care, human services or education programs, according to information Ventura County officials received from the California State Association of Counties (Biasotti, Ventura County Star, 9/16).
Healthy Families, Medi-Cal

The budget retains a provision to increase monthly premiums for Healthy Families, California's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (Los Angeles Times, 9/16).

The proposal would restore most of the 10% cut in Medi-Cal payments to health care providers beginning in March 2009 (Lin, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 9/16). California's Medicaid reimbursement rates will remain the lowest in the U.S. even after the cuts are restored, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Posted by healthinsurance at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2008

California Children at Risk of Losing Health Insurance Coverage

Thousands of California children could lose health insurance coverage in the coming months as a result of changes in Medi-Cal rules and decreased funding for local efforts that have provided coverage to children, the Los Angeles Times reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

State lawmakers will require parents of children enrolled in Medi-Cal to renew their enrollment every six months.

The administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) projects that the requirement will contribute to a drop in Medi-Cal enrollment over the next two years of about 196,000 children.

State lawmakers also have increased monthly premiums for Healthy Families, California's version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, by $2 to $3 per child.

As a result, the state estimates that the parents of 19,000 children no longer will receive coverage through the program by July 2009.

The changes to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families were approved as part of a larger effort to address the state budget deficit.
Local Efforts.

Beyond changes to Medi-Cal and Healthy Families rules, children also could lose coverage because of funding challenges faced by local initiatives operating in 30 counties. The efforts target children who are ineligible for Medi-Cal or Healthy Families because of income or citizenship requirements.

The initiatives are funded largely by private philanthropies and local First 5 commissions, which disburse funds from a state tobacco tax for early childhood health care and education efforts.

Wendy Lazarus, co-president of the advocacy group Children's Partnership, estimates that enrollment in the efforts has dropped by 8,000 over the past two years.

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Posted by healthinsurance at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)