Statement of Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment, RE: Elimination of Children's Health Insurance Funding from the State Budget Proposal

Dr. Robert K. Ross, M.D., the President and CEO of The California Endowment, today issued the following statement:

"We are very disappointed to learn that funding for kids' health coverage has been eliminated from the state's budget proposal. Sadly, it is our children who are the victims, particularly the 800,000 kids who do not have health insurance. According to recent polls, the overwhelming majority of Californians say covering kids is the right thing to do. We need to ask our state's elected leaders: 'If not now, when?'"

Today, it was announced that approximately $23 million for children's health coverage was eliminated from the state budget proposal.

The funding was intended to help local Children's Health Initiatives (CHI's) in 18 counties provide health insurance to more children. CHI's are local public-private partnership efforts that have emerged in 32 counties (18 of which are operational and 14 in the planning stages) to fill the uninsured gap for children.

In May 2006, The California Endowment released two studies which each provided an analysis of short-term steps needed to sustain recent gains in providing health insurance to children, primarily by building upon the success of CHI's.

The studies call attention to the fact that local CHI's, within the past five years, have successfully provided direct health coverage to more than 85,000 kids in 18 counties and have helped enroll an additional estimated 80,000 children eligible for either Medi-Cal or Healthy Families programs.

At the same time, however, researchers raise concerns about long-term program financing and sustainability for the existing 18 local county-level programs, in addition to the 14 other programs in the process of coming on-line. Due to funding challenges, eight CHI's have placed an estimated 10,210 children (ages 6 to 18) on waiting lists to receive health care coverage. Moreover, the studies issue a warning about potential funding shortfalls facing CHI's within the next 12-18 months. Ultimately, the researchers recommend that the future of the CHI programs resides in a partnership among state, county and federal governments.

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