Sunday, August 2, 2009

Health Care in California Comes to a Grinding Halt

Healthy Families provides health insurance coverage for children in families that make too much money to qualify for MediCal (California’s Medicaid program) and who have no health coverage. If you visit the State of California Healthy Families website, you will learn that because of the budget crisis, the program has been frozen. Suspended indefinitely. According to the website, families filling out new applications for their children can expect to be wait-listed for at least a year (other children will have to drop off the rolls to make room for new children). What does this mean?

It means, among other things, that:
--Parents will not take children for regular check-ups so illness and issues of concern will not be caught early. More children falling severely ill and dying.
--Children will turn up in emergency rooms in record numbers, when untreated health issues blow up. Higher cost to the system. Greater stress and suffering for children and their families.
--Children with tooth decay in families that can’t afford the dentist will be in pain. By the time they enter kindergarten, 50% of California schoolchildren have tooth decay and 28% have untreated tooth decay. On any given day, 4% of California kindergarteners are experiencing tooth pain, often as the result of an abscess. How can they concentrate on school when their teeth hurt?

It means that families who let their Healthy Families coverage lapse at the annual renewal date will lose their spot and be wait-listed. It’s easy to forget to renew. New babies born into families on Healthy Families will not be automatically grandfathered in. Their older siblings may be covered, but the baby will be wait-listed. Parents living just above poverty level with a child who experiences a health crisis will basically have to quit their job and drop into poverty to be covered by MediCal so they can get needed medical services for their child.

There are options to resolve this problem, many have been proposed by Democrats in the state legislature, but the Republicans don’t want to listen. I’m burning out on these supply-siders; wish they would toddle off to the old-age home already so the rest of us can get on with evolution.

No comments: