Nearly one million low-income kids are enrolled in Healthy Familes. Officials say in the next year more than 350,000 kids will not get coverage. California is the first state in the country to put kids on a waiting list.
“It’s a big issue when the biggest program puts a freeze on enrollment.”
Robin Rudowitz is a health care policy expert with the Kaiser Family Foundation. She tracks programs like Healthy Families around the country. Rudowitz says the freeze comes at a terrible time because of the economic recession.
“I think it makes it even harder because the cap is certainly coming at a time when individuals are most needing help as the unemployment rate continues to rise many of them will be uninsured and go without coverage.”
Healthy Families is bracing for a $90 million budget cut from the Legislature. It’s possible that the First 5 Commission – funded through state tobacco tax money - could help offset the shortfall. But at this point there is no guaranteed funding.