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Critics Denounce California’s Plan To Eliminate Healthy Families Program

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(CBS)

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DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – Some doctors are sounding the alarm about a budget deal being ironed out in Sacramento.

The revised budget agreement between legislative Democrats and Governor Brown calls for the phasing out of California’s successful Healthy Families program, which provides state-sponsored, low-cost insurance for children, teens and pregnant mothers. That means low income children children will be folded into Medi-Cal instead, which some  healthcare providers think is a disastrous idea.

To save $13 million annually, the revised budget phases out Healthy Families, which serves almost 900,000 uninsured children.

“You’re taking a large number of kids who have access to care in a successful program and now you’re going to dismantle that program and take all of these kids and throw them into a dysfunctional, poorly set up, struggling infrastructured program in Medi-Cal, where there access to care will undoubtedly decline immediately,” maintained Ted Mazer, M.D., who chairs the Medi-Cal Technical Advisory Committee for the California Medical Association.

“The Medi-Cal program has tremendous access problems for those already in it and much of that is driven by the fact that it’s an over-promised and terribly underfunded program,” he continued.

But, State Senate Budget Committee chair Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) insists no child would be transferred into Medi-Cal, without a provider willing to treat him or her.

“That’s where it’s going to get more challenging for us,” he acknowledged, “to make sure that there is readiness and access so that no child will find their is not provision in their healthcare for them.”

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Gov. Brown and Democratic lawmakers cited savings of as much as $13 million annually in calling for the scrapping of Healthy Families.

“There may be some immediate cost savings,” Mazer conceded. “But in the long term you increase the ultimate cost and you hurt people and disrupt their care in the process.”

Some Republican lawmakers have also come out against the proposal, calling the idea to get rid of Healthy Families an ill-advised and reckless idea.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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