Families May Get Insurance for Kids

by Lesley Politi on December 23, 2008

Families may get insurance for kids

By SUNITA VIJAYAN
The Salinas Californian

First 5 Monterey County is considering a pledge of nearly $430,000 to help the state extend healthcare coverage to local children.

The local news comes on the heels of a decision announced Wednesday by First 5 California to provide $16.7 million to the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers the state’s Healthy Families program. That funding would provide continued health care coverage for more than 65,000 children up to age 5 while the state works through its fiscal predicament.

Locally, Francine Rodd, executive director of First 5 Monterey County, said they have not yet pledged any funds because they are awaiting their commissioners’ direction, who are expected to vote on the pledge at a Jan. 26 meeting in Salinas.

First 5 California came from the voter-passed Proposition 10 in November 1998, which added a 50-cent per pack tax on cigarette sales to fund community health programs intended to better the lives of children from birth to age 5, and their families.

Should the local commission approve the pledge, Rodd said, about 1,700 children would receive health care coverage during a six-month period ending June 30. About 275 children a month would be enrolled in the plan.

Rodd said the local First 5′s participation in the program is purely monetary; the state will run the operation, processing and selecting eligible applicants. She said children whose parents have lost

health coverage due to job loss or reduced income would be the target group.

“Because of the economic situation, there is an increased need for health insurance,” Rodd said. “We’re anticipating that if they have to start waiting lists, it would mean people would not receive insurance coverage. It’s one less thing to have to worry about as we recover from the financial crisis.”

Rodd said local contributions, if any, to the state’s children’s health program is dependent on the commissioners’ vote.

Statewide, First 5 California said 46 local commissions have agreed to take up the request.

“Providing funding is consistent with our vision that families are healthy and stable, and live in communities that respect children,” Rodd said.

Source: thecalifornian.com

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