Earlier this summer budget cuts caused the Healthy Families program to put more than 70,000 low-income children on a waiting list. And officials warned they’d start disenrolling kids in November. So Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass authored a bill with almost $200 million in funding for the program. One reason Bass said it was so important for kids to have health insurance:
“If you’ve watched the news over the last couple of weeks as children all across the country are going back to school there is major concern over the spread of the H1N1 virus.”
Under the measure health plans will pay less in some taxes but for a longer period of time. Families will pay twice as much for some doctor’s visits and most prescription drugs. And the First Five Commission will chip in more than $80 million to offset the shortfall. Plus the state will get millions of dollars in additional federal matching money. That’s a perk says Republican Assemblymember Mike Villines of Fresno.
“It also gives us our fair share from the federal government, we’re a donor state. How much money do we give to the federal government and we never get any back?”
The bipartisan support was notable for Los Angeles area Democratic Assemblymember Charles Calderon.
“We are actually doing it together. I think this will be, this year, one of our finest moments if not the finest moments.”
Though the Senate passed the measure as well there was significant GOP opposition. Republican Senators pointed out that families will have to pay more for the same services and it involves taxing health plans.
“Tally the vote…”
But in the Assembly the measure easily got the 2/3rds vote needed. And lawmakers even took a second to congratulate themselves.
The bill heads next to Governor Schwarzenegger who calls it a great victory and says he looks forward to signing it.