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

Federal Policy



A Huge Win for Children!


On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This is a huge win for California children and will help improve access to quality, affordable coverage for the 1.5 million uninsured children in California.  Right now, with many parents losing jobs and their employer-sponsored coverage, and the economy still lagging, many children are going without the health insurance they need to stay healthy and do well in school. 


The new health reform law is already helping families seeking health coverage for their children.  A series of provisions that benefit children are going into effect this fall, and others will be rolled out over the next four years.  In 2014, the most sweeping changes will go into effect, most notably the establishment of state Exchanges, or a health insurance marketplace where families can explore options for affordable health coverage. 


California is leading the way on ACA implementation efforts – our legislature is the first in the nation to pass legislation to (known as the California Health Benefit Exchange).  In California, the Exchange will expand coverage to an estimated 8 million uninsured people!   


September 2010 and Beyond – How California Children Will Benefit from Health Reform

On September 23rd, 2010, the following provisions will go into effect for new health plans across the country, breaking down barriers for families trying to access health coverage for their children.  Click here for a full overview. 


  • Pre-existing conditions: Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to children seeking insurance or deny treatment to children already covered due to pre-existing conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or even chronic ear infections). In California there are 576,500 children under the age of 18 who have a pre-existing condition that could benefit from this rule. 


  • Young adults stay covered: Insurance companies will be required to cover young adults on their parent’s insurance until age 26, even those who are not students.  In California, 1.3 million young adults could benefit from this rule. Learn more about the campaign to get young adults covered at www.getcoveredca.org.      
  • Coverage when kids need it most: Insurance companies won’t be allowed to drop people when they get sick (a common practice today, called “rescission”). They also won’t be allowed to limit the lifetime dollar value of coverage, which is important for kids with lifelong conditions like diabetes or asthma or serious health problems like cancer.  This new rule could help the 1 in 7 children who have special health care needs and who require more costly, intensive services. 


  • Free preventive services: Insurance companies will have to cover immunizations and other preventive health services for infants, children, and adolescents – at no cost to families.   


  • Children can keep Healthy Families and Medi-Cal coverage: The successful Healthy Families and Medi-Cal initiatives are protected so children won’t lose coverage even if the state has a deficit.  Together, these programs serve over four million California children.

**Note that some health plans that existed before the law was enacted, known as “grandfathered plans,” are exempt from some of the above changes above. Click here for more information.       

More provisions benefiting children will go into effect leading up to 2014, when the California Health Insurance Benefit Exchange will be established, giving families access to more affordable coverage options.  Click here for a full list.   


Children Don’t Have to Wait to Enroll in Health Coverage!


A new report from the Urban Institute shows that California is home to 700,000 uninsured children are currently eligible for health coverage, but not enrolled.  Healthy Families and Medi-Cal are affordable coverage options available to children in California (a family of three with an income of $46,000 per year may qualify).  For more information on coverage options available now, click here.

Parents may not know that help is available. We can all do our part to let children and their families know that they don’t need to wait to obtain health insurance coverage – they can get it now! Families interested in learning more about Medi-Cal or Healthy Families should call 1-877-KIDS-NOW (888-747-1222).  More information is available here


Also, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed several websites to guide families to appropriate cover for their children:







On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization bill - H.R. 2 (CHIPRA 2009). With the successful passage of CHIPRA 2009, Congress and President Obama demonstrated a strong commitment to cover millions of the nation's uninsured children during this difficult economic time. This federal leadership on children's health gives California critical resources to finish the job of providing health coverage for our 683,000 uninsured children.  California leaders now have the opportunity and responsibility to do their part to invest in children's health.  If not, CHIP funds will go to other states that can capitalize on the newly available dollars and many of California's children will remain uninsured. This is the moment for California to step up for children as several other state leaders are doing.


For a brief summary of the key provisions in the federal CHIP bill and what California will need to do to take advantage of the opportunities presented in the legislation, download our memo.