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

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.

Sarah Boone, a behavior analyst with the social services agency EMQ FamiliesFirst, evaluates Ernesto Santiago, 6, of San Jose for autism therapy services. (Photo by Barbara Feder Ostrov)
Sarah Boone, a behavior analyst with the social services agency EMQ FamiliesFirst, evaluates Ernesto Santiago, 6, of San Jose for autism therapy services. (Photo by Barbara Feder Ostrov)

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.

Read full Kaiser Health News article here…