In the waning days of the legislative session, Senate Republicans are working to pass legislation to restore California’s Healthy Families program. SB 301 co-authored by Senator Anthony Cannella, (R-Ceres) is a bill that extends for one year the Managed Care Organization (MCO) tax, providing the funds to continue the Healthy Families program. Previously, the tax received bipartisan support in the legislature, and was supported as well by the health insurers that pay the tax. SB 301 prevents approximately 900,000 children from being forced to transition from the successful Healthy Families program to Medi-Cal as dictated in the Governor’s Budget. Democrats subsequently approved AB 1469 (Budget Committee), which reinstated the MCO tax, but without bringing back Healthy Families.
Healthy Families was established in 1997 to be California’s version of the federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), providing medical, dental and vision benefits to children of families earning between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level. The program, which blended state and federal funds, was slated to be discontinued just a few weeks ago via trailer bill, AB1494, as part of the budget deal struck between the legislature’s Democratic majority and Governor Jerry Brown. Almost 900,000 children from low-income families have now been directed to participate in California’s Medi-Cal system.
“As a father of 4, I simply could not support the elimination of Healthy Families, a program with a proven track record of care for nearly a million California children. Forcing the children who are currently enrolled to move to the overstressed Medi-Cal system will only serve to jeopardize their access to care. SB 301 can fix that wrong.”
“Healthy Families was a program with bipartisan support and it worked,” said Senate Republican leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar). “With its demise, hundreds of thousands of more children will now have their health care needs administered by government bureaucrats, in a system that’s already struggling to find enough doctors who are willing to take on new patients for what the government is able to pay.”