SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCBS) _ 700,000 children in California haven’t signed up for government health insurance, even though they’re eligible.

California still has 1.5 million uninsured children, the most in the country. And almost half of them are eligible for either Medi-Cal or the Healthy Families program, but haven’t enrolled.

“A lot of parents simply don’t know their children may be eligible for health insurance through California’s two public health insurance programs, Healthy Families and Medi-Cal,” said Suzie Shupe, executive director of the California Children’s Health Initiative.

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She said her organization is embracing a new federal challenge to reach out to eligible families.

“If the parents don’t know about the program, how can they enroll their kid. So that’s what our programs do and we believe that the state should step up and take responsibility with us for getting these kids enrolled,” Shupe said.

Which will be a tough task, given that California has cut $34 million from outreach and education on this issue.

Shupe said that’s a shortsighted decision about an investment that’s well worth it in the long run, as she says paying for prevention upstream will save millions on the back end.


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