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With Half of California’s Kids On Medicaid, Advocates Worry About Service

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
02/04/15  12:11 AM PST
Kaiser Medicaid Children News

With Half of California’s Kids On Medicaid, Advocates Worry About Service – Originally published by Kaiser Health News. Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit national health policy news service.

By Barbara Feder Ostrov, Kaiser Health News

California’s Medi-Cal program has grown to cover nearly half of the state’s children, causing policymakers and child advocates to question the ability of the taxpayer-funded program to adequately serve so many poor kids.

In the past two years alone, the program has added nearly 1 million young people up to age 20,  including those newly eligible for Medi-Cal coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The increase brings the total number of young people on Medi-Cal to 5.2 million, more than ever before.

Medi-Cal is California’s version of Medicaid and the largest program of its kind in the nation.

Many pediatricians and specialists already refuse to accept new Medi-Cal patients, at least in part because the program offers among the lowest payment rates in the country. New rate cuts took effect this January. Health care advocates say adding more children to the mix will only worsen the likelihood of timely treatment.

Evidence is emerging that the public insurance program is falling short in some key respects. According to an ongoing study led by Ninez Ponce at UCLA and funded by the California Healthcare Foundation, children on Medi-Cal were five times more likely than kids on private plans to have visited the emergency department for asthma care because they couldn’t see their own doctor.

And according to a state report based on 2013 data, more than two-thirds of California’s Medicaid managed care plans performed below the national average for Medicaid plans in ensuring that children had required immunizations by age 2.

Read the Full Article at Kaiser Health News.


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