Gov. Brown’s Budget Proposal Has Alarming Consequences for Children’s Health
SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to Governor Brown’s release of his 2012-13 budget proposal, a coalition of leading children’s health advocates in California expressed concern about the scope of proposed cuts and fundamental changes to children’s health care, and fear that such a proposal could significantly jeopardize access to health care for California children.
The Governor’s budget proposes a nearly 26 percent reduction in the rates paid to managed care plans that serve children enrolled in the Healthy Families Program; an expansion of managed care for children in rural counties; and the wholesale transition of all 875,000 children in Healthy Families into Medi-Cal beginning in October 2012.
“These are the most dramatic changes in children’s health care since the creation of California’s Healthy Families Program,” said Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President of The Children's Partnership. “It would be irresponsible to move forward with these proposals without assurances that children will not be harmed,” she added.
Jamila Edwards, Northern California Director of Children’s Defense Fund-California added, “The most significant challenge in providing health care for kids has been ensuring that children have timely access to quality care. The proposal to reduce the Healthy Families rates threatens to exacerbate problems accessing health care meaning that kids will be less likely to get the preventative care and other services that are crucial to healthy development.”
“At a time when California’s children and families are already struggling as a result of the economic downturn, we shouldn’t be making it harder for kids to get the health care services they need to grow up healthy,” said Corey Timpson, Director of PICO California. “The rates and costs of obesity, asthma and diabetes are skyrocketing and childhood is the time these diseases begin. We simply cannot afford to roll back our commitment to children’s health.”
Children’s health advocates cautioned that substantive safeguards are necessary and a thoughtful planning process would be required before these changes take place. “Any transition of Healthy Families children into Medi-Cal must prioritize the needs of children, including implementing protections to ensure that children have adequate and timely access to quality primary and specialty care,” said Ted Lempert, President of Children Now. “Without a thoughtful plan and strong safeguards, we risk making California kids worse off than they are today.”
As children’s health advocates, we are dedicated to working with stakeholders in Sacramento and throughout the state to ensure policymakers understand the importance of thoughtful discussions regarding the impact that the Governor’s budget proposal will have on the children of California.