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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Urban Institute Research Recommends Cautious Approach to Transforming California’s Healthy Families Program


New Urban Institute Research Recommends Cautious Approach to Transforming California’s Healthy Families Program

Findings Have Implications for Governor’s 2012 Budget Proposal


SACRAMENTO, CA – This week, the 100% Campaign highlighted a new Urban Institute report whose findings call into question Governor Brown’s proposal to move 875,000 children covered by Healthy Families into Medi-Cal. The issue brief, “The Future of Healthy Families: Transitioning to 2014 and beyond,” summarizes research examining the potential impact of moving children currently receiving health coverage through California’s Healthy Families Program to Medi-Cal or the California Health Benefit Exchange.


The research was commissioned by the 100% Campaign, a collaborative effort of The Children’s Partnership, Children Now, and Children’s Defense Fund-California. Jamila Edwards, Northern California Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California, said “This research is particularly relevant given Governor Brown’s budget proposal to shift all of the children in Healthy Families to Medi-Cal. We believe that any decision about the future of children in Healthy Families must ensure that California children have the best possible care and coverage, and adequate access to health care.”


The Urban Institute research looked at various scenarios for the future of Healthy Families and ultimately recommended that the state, in the short term, move only the lowest-income children in Healthy Families (those with family income below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, known as the “bright-line” population) into Medi-Cal. The “bright-line” children, who are required by federal law to be moved to Medi-Cal by 2014, would benefit from the move because Medi-Cal does not charge premiums or co-payments for the lowest-income children. The issue brief suggests that the shift of “bright-line” children should be accompanied by measures to safeguard access to care and a rigorous monitoring plan. The research recommends that policymakers make a decision about the best course of action for the remaining Healthy Families population after evaluating the success of the transition of the “bright- line” children.


Wendy Lazarus, President and Co-Founder of The Children’s Partnership said, “The Urban Institute study findings helped us reach a conclusion regarding the transition of Healthy Families children into Medi-Cal. We should start with the “bright-line” kids, monitor carefully, and then evaluate to determine if transitioning additional Healthy Families children makes sense.”


“Our primary concern is that children, whether enrolled in Healthy Families or Medi-Cal, have access to quality health care,” added Ted Lempert, President of Children Now. “As this new issue brief suggests, a phased transition with access safeguards and close monitoring in place is clearly in the best interest of our children.”


The author, Stan Dorn, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute, will present his findings publicly at the February 15th meeting of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which oversees the Healthy Families Program. The meeting is scheduled from 11:00am – 2:00pm at 801 Capitol Mall, Auditorium, State Personnel Board, Sacramento, CA. A copy of the issue brief is available at http://www.100percentcampaign.org/publications/