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California Counties Expand Children's Health Initiatives

California counties continue to make significant progress in ensuring that all children in low- to middle-income families have access to health coverage. As of May 2006, 18 counties have implemented and another 12 are planning Children's Health Initiatives (CHIs). CHIs are funded by private philanthropies, local and state contributions, tobacco tax revenues, hospitals, business, and individuals. [1] The counties are waging extensive outreach campaigns to enroll eligible children in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families (California's Medicaid and SCHIP programs, respectively) or the new "Healthy Kids" programs, which are implemented and funded in each county and intended for children who are not eligible for the state's public programs. Together, the counties have enrolled more than 88,600 children in their Healthy Kids plans and 165,000 more under Medi-Cal and Healthy Families.

Evaluation of the first CHI in Santa Clara County found significant reductions in unmet need for medical and dental care, and success in enrolling eligible but uninsured children into existing programs, thus infusing millions of state and federal dollars into the community. [2]

In April, advocates submitted over 1 million signatures to qualify as a ballot measure the Tobacco Tax Act of 2006 that levies a $2.30 tax on cigarettes and tobacco products as a sustainable financing source for children's health coverage. If the Tobacco Tax of 2006 is passed by California voters in November, funding would be available in 2007 for a statewide California Healthy Kids program. In the May 2006 revised state budget, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed state financial support for outreach, enrollment, systems improvements, and transitional premium support for the local Children's Health Initiatives.

[1] California Endowment, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California HealthCare Foundation, First 5 California and local First 5 Commissions. The California Endowment has funded a technical assistance consortium to work with counties to help them implement their CHIs.
[2] Trenholm, C.A., Howell E., Hughes D., and Orzol S. Santa Clara Healthy Kids Program Reduces Gaps in Children's Access to Medical and Dental Care, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., April 2005; Trenholm, C.A. Expanding Coverage for Children: The Santa Clara County Children's Health Initiative, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., June 2004.

For More Information
Contact: Institute for Health Policy Solutions California Liane

Wong, California Director, [email protected], (650) 287-4210


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