Cut baby Dear Advocate,

We need your help today to urge the California Legislature to protect health care for California’s children in the state budget. As California’s budget outlook improves and the state moves forward with federal health care reform, we must ensure that our most vulnerable populations are not left behind. 

Right now, legislators in Sacramento are considering three budget proposals that will have a major impact on the availability of health care services for uninsured families, former foster youth, and children with mental health challenges.

Your voice matters! Call your legislators today and urge them to:

  • Protect the county health care safety net for uninsured children and families. More info»
  • Ensure Medi-Cal coverage is immediately available for former foster youth and those aging out of the system. More info»
  • Provide vital behavior health therapy for autistic children enrolled in Medi-Cal. More info»

(Don’t know your legislator? Type in your address here» to find your state representatives)

Do you use Twitter? Send a tweet to legislative leaders urging them to make children's health a priority in the state budget.

@SpeakerPerez @proTemSteinberg – Please protect health care for former foster youth & children w #autism in #cabudget #health4all

Read more about these key budget proposals and take action to protect children’s health. 

Protecting the County Health Care Safety Net

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has the potential to drastically reduce the number of uninsured families in the state. Even so, almost four million Californians, including 500,000 children, will still be without health coverage.

Nevertheless, Governor Brown intends to cut existing dollars that help to fund the county health care safety net that provides care to many uninsured families and children. The governor has proposed slashing $1.4 billion currently reserved for counties over the next three years, starting with $300,000 in the first six months.

California’s families need access to comprehensive health care services! Basic primary and preventative care is more efficient, effective, and affordable than depending on emergency rooms—and it saves more lives. We must preserve funding for counties to ensure our safety net is strong enough to bear the weight of those who need it. 

Expand Medi-Cal Coverage for Former Foster Youth 

Beginning January 1st of next year, the ACA will allow former foster youth to receive health coverage through Medi-Cal until age 26, a health benefit already available to other young adults through their parents’ health insurance. However, former foster youth turning 21 in the next six months will lose coverage, only to become eligible again later, putting their access to health treatment at risk. 

Fortunately, a budget proposal put forth by the State Assembly includes a provision that will prevent this vulnerable population from losing coverage. The proposal would extend Medi-Cal coverage to 4,500 former foster youth starting next month, so youth aging out of the foster care system do not fall through the cracks. According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst Office, this early expansion will cost the state less than $5 million.

Former foster youth must have access to health care! Former foster youth are more likely than other young adults to face physical and mental health challenges; and, conversely, they are far less likely to have access to the health care necessary to receive treatment. We must guarantee that former foster youth get the health coverage entitled to all young adults. 

Add Behavioral Health Services to Medi-Cal 

Last January, despite an outcry from child health advocates and legislators, California officials began the ill-conceived process of moving children enrolled in Healthy Families to the Medi-Cal program. Although families were assured their children's coverage wouldn’t change, hundreds of parents of children with autism soon discovered that under Med-Cal their children were no longer eligible to receive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, a mental health service proven to improve socialization and learning ability in children with autism. 

The Senate has responded by introducing a budget proposal that offers a solution to ensure children with autism in Medi-Cal are able to receive these vital behavioral health services. The proposal will set aside $50 million ensure that ABA therapy is included among the mental health services covered by Medi-Cal until the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014. 

Parents of children with autism depend on ABA therapy to keep their children healthy and ready to learn. We must take action to make sure the Legislature approves and the governor signs this Senate budget solution. 

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