A collaborative effort of The Children's Partnership, Children Now, and Children's Defense Fund created to ensure that all of California's children obtain the health coverage they need to grow up strong and healthy

Press Release

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Report Details Number of California Children with Chronic Conditions Who Depend on Medi-Cal for Treatment


New Report Details Number of California Children with Chronic Conditions Who Depend on Medi-Cal for Treatment 

Potential Federal Medicaid Cuts Could Leave Hundreds of Thousands of California Children Facing Life-Threatening Health Challenges Without Help


Oakland, CA—Potential federal cuts to Medicaid would pose a specific and dangerous threat for the 3.7 million California children who depend on the program for routine care, including hundreds of thousands of children with special health care needs and chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and heart disease. Without Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program), these children would no longer be able to fill essential prescriptions, keep up with key screenings, or see a doctor if their condition worsens or reoccurs.


The importance of Medi-Cal to California children is detailed in a new report jointly released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association, and the health care consumer group Families USA. With respect to children, the report, “Medicaid’s Impact in California: Helping People with Serious Health Care Needs,” found that:


  • Medi-Cal covers more than 2 out of every 5 children in California with cancer (3,340);
  • Medi-Cal covers 55% of all children in California with diabetes (25,090);
  • Medi-Cal covers nearly 43% of all children in California with chronic lung disease (400,250); and
  • Medi-Cal covers over 53% of all children in California with heart disease (59,620).


Every dollar California spends on Medi-Cal coverage for low-income children and families is matched dollar-for-dollar by the federal government. Particularly during difficult economic times, this federal match helps the state provide health coverage for millions of Californians.


On behalf of leading children’s health advocates in California, Ted Lempert, President of Children Now, said “Medi-Cal provides care for the poorest, neediest, and sickest kids in California. Cuts to Medicaid funding at the federal level would harm the millions of California children who rely on Medi-Cal for chemotherapy treatment, to manage their diabetes and asthma in order to avoid costly complications, and for the regular and routine care that all children need. Given the importance of Medicaid to California’s health care system and economy, it is critical that the state keep Medi-Cal coverage available and affordable for families, and work to strengthen and improve access to care for children in Medi-Cal, especially those with serious and chronic health conditions.”


“Medicaid is a program that works and a program that provides urgently-needed care to hundreds of thousands of people in California suffering from serious but controllable diseases. It helps California children get a healthier start in life and school, it helps to maintain a healthy California workforce, and it helps head off medical debt, a leading cause of bankruptcies and home foreclosures,” Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, said today. “It should be crystal clear that with rising health care costs hurting family pocketbooks and with the economic downturn driving more families to depend on Medicaid, that this is precisely the wrong time to cut Medicaid funding to California and other states.”


Families USA contracted with The Lewin Group to develop the estimates in this report. The full report, “Medicaid’s Impact in California: Helping People with Serious Health Care Needs,” is available at http://familiesusa2.org/assets/pdfs/medicaids-impact/California.pdf.


Additional Information:

A recent review of children’s coverage by the national bi-partisan children’s advocacy group First Focus found that Medicaid Works in protecting vulnerable children and their families. Even though public coverage programs like Medicaid and Medicaid’s companion, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), cover low-income children with serious health needs, they successfully connect children with the care they need. Compared to children with private coverage, children with Medicaid or CHIP coverage are more likely to have a special health care need, have serious functional limitations, be reported to be in fair or poor health, and may require more intensive health, educational, or social services. Also, compared to their privately insured or uninsured counterparts, children with Medicaid or CHIP coverage are more likely to have had a preventive well-child visit in the past year, more likely to have seen a physician or health professional in the past year, and less likely to have unmet behavioral health needs. Medicaid and CHIP have also been attributed with reducing childhood mortality, increasing overall children’s health and well-being, and protecting the finances of poor and low-income families. Stories from families throughout the nation underscore how Medicaid is a life-line for children and youth with special health care needs.