Monday, August 3, 2009

Calif. Health Cuts Could Signify Challenges of National Reform

This Wall Street Journal article came fromt the California Healthline Calif. on-line newsletter. There are many difficulties resuling from these cuts. The disenrollment of hundreds of thousands of children already served will cause hardships throughout the state. In addition, at least one of the healthcare reform bills currently before congress will require states to increase the numbers of uninsured while -- get this -- reducing Federal funding. The bold and italics are all mine.

Health Cuts Could Signify Challenges of National Reform

The budget deficit that prompted California officials to cut state funding for health care programs could foretell coming challenges for national health care reform efforts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What's Happening in California
Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed a budget revision package that eliminated $178.6 million from Healthy Families, the state's Children's Health Insurance Program. As a result, Healthy Families stands to lose $357 million in federal matching funds for the program.

In total, California's health cuts could bring the state's number of uninsured children to two million, up from 1.1 million in 2007, according to the Children's Defense Fund. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research endorsed the estimates.

Ginny Puddefoot -- spokesperson for the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers Healthy Families -- said the program already has started placing all new applicants on a waiting list until at least June 2010.

Puddefoot also said the budget cuts might force the program to disenroll hundreds of thousands of children beginning in October.
National Implications

Some say California's budget situation demonstrates that certain states will have difficulty funding health care programs.

A Senate bill currently under consideration would require states to expand health care for more uninsured residents, even as the federal government begins reducing funding for state programs in 2015.

Gerald Kominski, associate director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said that without 100% of federal funding, some states might be unable to expand health care coverage (Knutson, Wall Street Journal, 8/1).

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