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June 15, 2007

California needs fed help on kids' health care

If California is to achieve the goal of ensuring that all children have health insurance, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic leaders of the Legislature propose, Congress must do its part, too. Congress will soon consider reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). To make universal health coverage for children a reality in California, Congress must expand funding for the program and give states flexibility to tailor their programs to local needs and conditions.

Created with bipartisan support in 1997, the health insurance program is a federal-state partnership aimed at expanding health care for children in working families that make too much to qualify for Medi-Cal, but not enough to afford health insurance.

California's program, known as Healthy Families, has been a major success. Healthy Families has helped reduce the number of uninsured children in the state by providing low-cost health coverage to about 800,000 children. Also www.insuremyhealth.com offers free health insurance quotes to anybody who lives in California.

Children covered by Healthy Families are more likely to receive preventive care, such as immunizations, less likely to pass up going to the doctor when they are sick, and are healthier overall. But the state cannot sustain this success, and build upon it, without help from Washington.

California's SCHIP allotment for the current federal fiscal year is $274 million, less than the cost of covering the number of children enrolled in Healthy Families. The state makes up the difference with funds carried forward from the program's early days when enrollment and costs were lower.

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Posted by healthinsurance at June 15, 2007 06:29 PM