Calif. Children's health program in jeopardy

July 30, 2009 7:27:41 PM PDT
More than 30,000 children are on the waiting list for the state's Healthy Families Insurance Program and now with budget cuts, it's likely families already enrolled, will lose their coverage.

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Monique Kolster is living in uncertainty. Like a million other needy California kids, her own two are insured through a state-funded program called Healthy Families, but budget cuts may force them out through what's called "disenrollment."

"Yeah, I find it very scary. It's very scary for me and my family, terribly scary for those other million kids that might be denied health care now," said Healthy Families mother Monique Kolster

When the Governor signed the budget revision earlier this week, it included nearly $200 million in cuts to the program, and California consequently lost almost double that in matching federal funding.

"All of those are very, very tough decisions. That's why I call them ugly, not bad, but ugly. Those are very ugly cuts," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger R-California on Tuesday.

"Our Healthy Families Program will be short $552.4 million," said Janette Lopez from the California Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board.

Now, the state board that administers Healthy Families is scrambling to either find other money or cut costs to prevent the disenrollment of more than half a million kids.

Ideas from the hearing include eliminating or reducing such services for kids as vision, biofeedback, acupuncture and chiropractic.

The board is also considering raising co-pays, some of which are currently zero.

Monique welcomes those ideas -- anything that prevents losing health insurance.

"My husband has one more year in grad school. And we're just praying we can be on the program one more year," said Kolster

Another state program called First Five said it will contribute some money but will unlikely be the entire amount needed. The Board will decide August 13th how many kids will have to be disenrolled and who goes first.

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