Children’s Health Advocates Urge Governor to Accept Private Funds to Keep Children and Families Insured

For Immediate Release
September 2, 2014
For More Information Contact:
Isobel White, (510) 828-3554/ Kathleen Hamilton, (916) 706-2917

Children’s Health Advocates Urge Governor to Accept Private Funds to Keep Children and Families Insured

Following the passage of Senate Bill 18 by the California state Legislature on Thursday, a coalition of children’s health advocates called on Governor Brown to embrace the common-sense plan to accept private and federal funds to help children and families maintain their Medi-Cal coverage. The bill, authored by state Senators Mark Leno and Ed Hernandez, would accept $12 million in private foundation funds and matching federal funds to help individuals and families navigate the newly complicated Medi-Cal renewal process.

“The Governor has the opportunity to build on his leadership in expanding Medi-Cal coverage to millions of low-income Californians by providing -- at no cost to the state -- assistance for Medi-Cal recipients to renew their health plans,” said Corey Timpson, Director of PICO California. “We cannot afford to backtrack by letting children and families lose their health coverage.”

Individuals must renew their coverage every year. With new, complicated Medi-Cal renewal rules and forms, there is growing concern that on the heels of the historic expansion, some low-income Californians could now actually lose coverage because of a complicated and unfamiliar renewal process.

The Brown Administration declined the renewal assistance funds offered by The California Endowment, a private foundation, earlier this year. “Now that we know that Medi-Cal renewals are lagging behind expectations and families are confused by the new renewal forms, we are counting on the Governor to take action to ensure that families have the help they need to keep their health coverage,” said Wendy Lazarus, Founder & Co-President of The Children’s Partnership.

“We’ve worked hard to create a culture of coverage in California,” said Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways of California. “Rejecting funds to help families keep their Medi-Cal coverage sends the wrong message to families across the state, and threatens to drown out the good work we’ve done to get Californians enrolled.”

"Renewing Medi-Cal coverage is not simple for many families, so they come to counselors that they know and trust for help." said Griselda Zamora, Project Manager and Certified Enrollment Counselor with Sacramento Covered. "Can you imagine your child being discontinued from health coverage just because the forms ask complicated tax information or isn't yet translated to your primary language? It just makes sense for the state to accept the funds to help families understand the renewal process; allowing them to stay covered."

“More than half of California’s children receive health coverage through Medi-Cal. Maintaining that coverage is important for the health and well-being of children, and for the fiscal health of the state,” said Kelly Hardy, Senior Director of Health Policy at Children Now. “When low-income individuals and families lack coverage, their health suffers, their ability to attend work or school suffers, and California as a whole suffers. SB 18 is smart legislation to make sure millions of Californians are able to get the coverage they need to stay healthy.”

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The Children's Partnership (TCP) is a national, nonprofit child advocacy organization working to ensure that all children - especially those at risk of being left behind - have the resources and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and to lead productive lives. TCP focuses particular attention on securing health coverage for uninsured children and ensuring that the opportunities of digital technology benefit all children and families. www.childrenspartnership.org

Children Now is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization working to raise children's well-being to the top of the state and national policy agenda. Children Now focuses on ensuring quality health care, a solid education and a positive media environment for all
children. www.childrennow.org

Children's Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is the California office of the Children's Defense Fund, a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for 35 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. The Children’s Defense Fund champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect, and ensure their access to health care, a quality education, and a moral and spiritual
foundation. www.cdfca.org

PICO California is the state’s largest community organizing network. We organize in 73 cities, 35 school districts, and in more than one-half of the state's Senate and Assembly districts. PICO California was established in 1994, bringing together local federations from throughout California to affect meaningful budget and policy change at the state level. Over the past 20 years, our organizing and policy advocacy has resulted in increased investments in education and healthcare, and in programs and services that are critical for working families. Together, we represent 480 congregations and 450,000 families of diverse economic, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds committed to advancing racial and economic justice in California through organizing, advocacy, and voter engagement. www.picocalifornia.org

California Coverage & Health Initiatives (CCHI), a leader in health advocacy for children and families, is a statewide association of outreach and enrollment organizations that are focused on helping children and families navigate into affordable health coverage and have access to high quality health care and other services. With firsthand experience and success enrolling children into public programs, such as Medi-Cal, as well as administering local Healthy Kids programs, the members of CCHI have shown that coverage for all children in California is a reachable goal. www.cchi4families.org

United Ways of California (UWCA) is the state association for California’s local United Ways. UWCA works to improve the health, education and financial stability for low-income children and families by enhancing and coordinating the advocacy and community impact work of California’s United Ways. UWCA is a strong advocate of expanding health coverage to all California children and their families. United Ways work closely with local community and business leaders, state and federal legislators, and volunteers to promote this achievable and important goal. www.unitedwaysca.org