Kaiser Balks at Joining Healthy Families Conversion to Medi-Cal

by David Gorn

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The planned switch of Healthy Families children into Medi-Cal could leave as many as 43,000 children looking for new health care providers if the state can't convince Kaiser Foundation Health Plan to join the effort.

That number would grow to 189,000 children if the state eventually converts all Healthy Families children to the Medi-Cal program.

On Tuesday, the Senate budget subcommittee for Health and Human Services rejected a plan to move the entire Healthy Families population of 875,000 kids to Medi-Cal all at once, instead starting with a pool of roughly 200,000 "bright line" children -- beneficiaries who are at or below 133% of federal poverty level.

An accurate number of the Kaiser bright-line children in the Healthy Families program is still being researched by Kaiser, but judging from the ratio of Kaiser's overall participation, about 43,000 of the 200,000 bright-line children are covered by Kaiser. Kaiser has 189,000 of the overall 875,000 children in Healthy Families.

Kaiser remains worried about an eventual conversion of all Healthy Families children to Medi-Cal, according to Marc Brown, media relations manager for Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

"While we support a balanced approach to restoring the state's fiscal stability," Brown said, "Kaiser Permanente has concerns about the proposed elimination of the Healthy Families program."

Norman Williams, deputy director of public affairs for the Department of Health Care Services, said the two sides are still working to get Kaiser on board.

"We are aware of the concern and we would certainly like Kaiser to participate," Williams said. "If that does not happen, we would move children into other plans in a seamless manner, and we would work to do it as efficiently as possible."


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