The Healthy Families Program — California's version of the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) — provides low cost insurance that covers health, dental, and vision coverage to children who do not have insurance today and do not qualify for no-cost Medi-Cal. One in every eleven California kids gets routine checkups, treatment when they are sick, and dental and vision care thanks to Healthy Families.
The State Threat
The Governor has proposed to close the doors of the Healthy Families Program and transfer the nearly 900,000 children in Healthy Families into California’s already overstretched Medi-Cal program over a brief nine-month period, starting in October 2012. The Governor's plan leaves the Medi-Cal program inadequate time to prepare to receive so many new kids and get them set up properly in a new health care program. Medi-Cal needs more time to shore up the network of doctors for the children it already serves before stretching its capacity to add almost 900,000 more children.
Instead of this overreach that could undermine the progress made in promoting healthy kids, a common sense, alternative approach is endorsed by over 40 organizations. We recommend a more gradual shift, moving 200,000 Healthy Families kids into Medi-Cal—those kids who, based on the new federal health reform law, will be enrolled in Medi-Cal with their families by January 2014.
The Federal Threat
The federal government provides more than 65¢ of every Healthy Families Program dollar through CHIP, so decisions about the federal budget have an enormous impact on California children’s ability to get the care they need. The federal fiscal year 2013 budget passed by the U.S. House would cut nearly $30 billion from CHIP funding over two years and more than $160 billion from children’s share of Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) over 10 years.
For more details on the House budget, read the First Focus fact sheet.