Thursday, November 8, 2007

California Prepares to Drop Coverage for Kids

The effects of President Bush's recent SCHIP veto are becoming visible in California, where state officials met Monday to prepare for the loss in funding. Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, analyzes the ripple effect in a column for the California Progress Report:

In the wake of President Bush's veto of SCHIP and the stalemate over the reauthorization of the federal children's coverage program, board members of California's Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) on Monday took the first step that would enable the state to put children eligible for Healthy Families on a waitlist, or begin disenrolling eligible children from the program altogether.

Emergency Regulations adopted on Monday can be found here. Healthy Families enrolls approximately 830,000 children in families with incomes between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level ($20,650 to $51,625 for a family of four).

According to Wright's article the MRMIB's Executive Director, Lesley Cummings, first brought this idea to the table after President Bush's initial veto of the SCHIP legislation. According to Cummings, if the program continued to operate normally Healthy Families would run dry of funding and have to shut down from July through September of 2008.

She and other board members emphasized, ad nauseum, that Monday's adoption of emergency regulations did not necessarily mean that waitlists would be established or children would lose coverage.

Advocates, including Wright's own organization, Health Access California, argued against enacting the emergency regulations at this time. Representatives of 100% Campaign, Community Health Councils, Inc. and other groups were also present to speak against the emergency regulations.

However, after minimal discussion, the chair moved and the board voted to approve the emergency regulations. They did adopt one additional provision to revise the proposed regulation to reinstate previously enrolled children first, before new applicants, when funding was ultimately reauthorized.

The net result is that the waitlisting and disenrollment procedures can start as early as December 5th, 2007 -- less than one month from today. Mr. Wright's column has further details on the board meeting and the mechanics of the waitlisting and disenrolling procedures.

SOURCE: "California Takes First Step Towards Disenrolling Children from Health Coverage Because of Bush Veto of SCHIP" 11/06/07
photo courtesy of Mosseby, used under this Creative Commons

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