Sacramento - Governor Jerry Brown’s budget, released Thursday, proposes the transition of children and teenagers from the Healthy Families Program (HFP) to Medi-Cal. HFP currently provides health, dental and vision coverage to children and teenagers ineligible for Medi-Cal.
“The move to eliminate the Healthy Families Program would be devastating for the some 900,000 children and teenagers throughout California that depend on the program for medical care,” James T. Hay, M.D., President of the California Medical Association (CMA) said. “What the Governor has proposed will undoubtedly ensure that those kids now have a harder time getting access to care.”
The Healthy Families program has been far more successful than Medi-Cal in ensuring timely access to care and sufficient payment to participating providers. As a result, that program is far better-received by both enrollees and physicians.
“On one hand, Governor Brown is advocating for a 10 percent cut in Medi-Cal. On the other hand, he wants to add just under a million more young people to the program, which data shows is already struggling to meet the needs of the existing patients,” said Dustin Corcoran, CMA CEO. “The Medi-Cal provider network will simply not be able to accommodate this large influx of kids and teens. It’s unclear how anybody wins in that scenario.”
In 2009, President Obama signed a bill reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The reauthorization provided states with funding and stability for four and a half years. SCHIP is the primary source of funding for the Healthy Families Program in California. California has the largest SCHIP enrollment in the country. Due to the recent economic downturn, the Healthy Families Program has experienced record-high monthly enrollment into the program.
“The rest of the country is looking to California to set an example for successful implementation of federal health care reform. The move to transition HFP into Medi-Cal undermines, rather than strengthens, our ability to succeed in that arena,” Corcoran added.