Reform Law Programs Could Leave Out 220K Calif. Kids, Report Finds

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Restrictions on programs created by the federal health reform law could prevent as many as 220,000 California children from obtaining health coverage, according to a policy brief by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.

For the policy brief, researchers analyzed state health survey data from 2007. The study received some funding support from the California Endowment.

Key Findings

The study found that as many as 20% of uninsured California children might not enroll in health reform programs because they or their parents were not born in the U.S. Researchers estimated that about:

  • 150,000 uninsured California children would be excluded from Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- because they are undocumented residents or documented residents who have lived in the U.S. for fewer than five years;
  • 30,000 uninsured California children would be excluded from participating in the California Health Benefit Exchange because they are undocumented residents; and
  • 40,000 uninsured California children who are U.S. citizens might not enroll in Medi-Cal or the state's health insurance exchange because of confusion about their parents' immigration status.

Implications

Ninez Ponce -- a faculty associate at the UCLA center and associate professor at the UCLA School of Public Health -- said, "Health care reform restrictions raise some very unpleasant questions about our willingness as a society to let children go without care." Ponce added, "And confusion over the rules may result in even eligible children being cut off from coverage" (Hines, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/29).


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