Funding for Struggling Kids' Health Insurance Program

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, December 15, 2008

Last month the program called Healthy Families that insures nearly one million low-income children warned it would be forced to stop accepting kids. That’s because it faced a more than $17 million shortfall, in part because of record demand for coverage. The enrollment freeze could have put up to 160,000 children on a waiting list for health insurance.

But the First 5 Commission will transfer almost $17-million of its funding to Healthy Families to keep enrollment open for children ages 0-5. Kris Perry is First 5’s executive director.

“During these extremely difficult fiscal times is exactly when First 5 wants to step in and help cover kids and make sure that they’re receiving the basic services to keep them healthy.”

First 5 programs have been under fire from Republican lawmakers who say they’re sitting on surplus funds. But, Perry says without the funding help more than 10,000 infants and kids up to age five a month would be put on a waiting list and miss critical wellness checkups and medical care. First 5 officials say their programs only cover young children and the additional funding cannot cover kids ages 6-18. She says that means the Healthy Families program could still see tens of thousands of kids on a waiting list.