Healthy Families Enrollment Deadline

July 13, 2009 11:05:04 PM PDT
The state budget crisis will hurt Valley families in a new way by the end of this week. After this Thursday, people applying to insure their children under the Healthy Families program will be put on an indefinite waiting list. And some already in the program could be kicked out.Healthy Families is a program for low income families who make too much money to qualify for Medi-Cal, but don't earn enough for private insurance. If new applicants miss Thursday's July 16th deadline, they may find themselves without any coverage at all.

Filling out applications for her 17 year old son is Lucia Villarreal's first step in getting him insurance coverage.

Villarreal said, "She says it's been difficult. They haven't been able to accept him almost anywhere.

Villarreal was referred to Healthy Families, a low income medical program after learning she made too much money for Medi-Cal.

"Her son has a problem with allergies. She is hoping Healthy Families will help him," said Villarreal.

Program officials say anyone who hasn't applied for Healthy Family services by July 16th will be added to a waiting list with no guarantee they'll ever be covered by Healthy Families. Sandra Celedon believes is the beginning of the end.

"What we actually suspect they are actually phasing out the program where they will be disenrolling children who are already on the program," said Celedon.

According to Healthy Families there are a million children throughout California enrolled in the program. 23 thousand are in Fresno County.

But after July 17th, Healthy Families will halt enrollment and up to nine thousand Fresno County children could end up on a waiting list, by next spring another five thousand may be cut from the program altogether.

'What we're expecting is that parents will no longer bring children in for their regular checkups since they are going to have to pay out of pocket, but rather wait until it becomes a serious illness," said Celedon.

Health professionals are worried ER visits will replace coming here for immunizations, managing chronic illnesses like asthma, and preventative health care.

Socorro Valdez said, "I've have people come in and they haven't been to the dentist in five years, some come in and they've never taken them to the dentist."

Healthy Families is hoping for a better way to keep children in the Central Valley healthy and insured.

Officials at Healthy Families in west Fresno say they normally get 30 to 40 new applicants every month. There are eight locations in the Central Valley where families can apply for coverage.

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