San Jose Mercury News: Supervisors Approve Plan for Children's Insurance

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Children's Health Initiative - CHI Newspaper Articles

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San Jose Mercury News
December 6, 2000

Supervisors approve plan for children's insurance

71,000 Uninsured In Santa Clara County Could Get Medical, Dental Coverage
Section: Local

Edition: Morning Final
Page: IB
By Maya Suryaraman

Correction; SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT (publ. 12/09/00, pg. 2A) An article on Wednesday in some
local sections about Santa Clara County's Children's Health Initiative incorrectly identified the agency that
pledged $2 million to the program. The agency is the Santa Clara County Children and Families First
Commission, an independent entity, which administers the county's share of statewide tobacco tax revenue.

Santa Clara County supervisors Tuesday approved a first-in-the-n ation plan to ensure that every child in the
county has health insurance.

Under the Children's Health initiative, the 71,000 children in the county estimated to be uninsured could

receive coverage for a full range of services, including vision, dental and comprehensive medical care.

"I do believe that we are on the brink of doing something incredibly powerful and helpful," said Supervisor
Blanca Alvarado.

Supervisors had committed to the goal of guaranteed health coverage for the county's children in October.
But on Tuesday, they approved a concrete plan to carry out their concept beginning early next year.
Santa Clara Family Health Plan, the county's Medi-Cal HMO, will administer the health initiative. It will
process applications from families, pay claims, contract for outreach and handle fundraising.
The county expects to begin enrolling families Jan. 2, and to start operations in February. Anyone up to age
19 is guaranteed coverage under the $14 million-a-year initiative.

Already, the county has pledged $2 million a year of the tobacco tax money it expects to get as a result of
Proposition 10, a 1998 state initiative that collects money for childhood programs. It is expected to formally
approve an additional $3 million in tobacco settlement money next week. Its aim is to tap employers,

individuals and foundations for the remaining $9 million a year needed to insure every child.

"To reach 100 percent funding . .. is going to require a historic public-private partnership," said Bob
Brownstein of Working Partnerships USA, an advocacy group for the county's working poor. Working
Partnerships initially floated the idea of the initiative, along with the group People Acting in Community

Since San Jose has the largest number of uninsured children in Santa Clara County, initiative officials will be
looking to the city for major backing.

This summer, the San Jose City Council narrowly voted down a similar proposal, which would have provided


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Children's Health Initiative - CHI Newspaper Articles

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Mayor Ron Gonzales, who led opposition to that plan, said the city had no experience in managing such a
program. However, the task force he appointed to study how the city should spend its tobacco settlement
money recently recommended allocating $750,000 to the county's health initiative through June 2001, and
more in years to come.

"They're basically recommending giving us what we're asking for," said Leona Butler, chief executive officer
of the Santa Clara Family Health Plan.

The San Jose City Council is to vote on the task force recommendations next Tuesday.

A major obstacle for the county will be reaching the families of the 71,000 children thought to be uninsured
and enrolling them, said Supervisor Jim Beall.

"We still have the big challenge of finding all these kids," said Beall, who along with Alvarado led the
county's efforts for the insurance initiative.

More than 50,000 of the county's uninsured kids are thought to be eligiblefor, but not enrolled in, state and
federal health care programs. The remaining 20,000 are children of the working poor, whose parents don't
qualify for government aid but cannot afford health insurance. The Children's Health Initiative will pay the
lion's share of insurance premiums for these children, with each family expected to kick in at most $18 a

Other public agencies have tried in the past to locate uninsured families -- with little success. But Health
Initiative officials say they will do better. They plan to partner with churches and schools to reach out to
these families.

The Santa Clara Family Health Plan also is working to streamline the intimidating application process

families often face when they apply for Medi-Cal.

My goal is to have a two-page form that is simple and unintimidating," Butler said

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Copyrighted material reprinted with permission. For educational use only.

health coverage to all the city's uninsured kids.

Overview of the first-in-the-nation plan to ensure that every child in Santa Clara County has health insurance.


James T. Beall

Content Type

Newspaper Article

Resource Type







District 4


Maya Suryaraman




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