Time Running Out for California as 300,000 Children May Lose Health Insurance

By: Georgia | Published: May 14, 2024

California is facing a crunch time with roughly 300,000 children on the brink of losing their health insurance due to changes in Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget. 

After federal protections evaporated post-COVID, the state’s youngest residents are caught in a fiscal crossfire.

A Sudden Shift in Medi-Cal Coverage

It’s a large-scale rollback: 1.6 million Californians have been cut from Medi-Cal, including 300,000 kids. 

A female nurse in teal scrubs uses an otoscope to check the ear of a young girl with glasses, while her father watches, in a clinical setting

Source: freepik

This drastic drop comes as continuous coverage from the pandemic era ends, leaving many families in uncertainty about their health care futures.


Advocates Push Back Hard

Advocacy groups are not staying silent. They’re urging Newsom to rethink his budget that currently overlooks the needs of millions who rely on these crucial health protections. 

Governor Gavin Newsom speaking at a podium in a conference room with financial charts on presentation screens behind him, addressing an audience of professionals

Source: CAgovernor/X

The pressure is on as the clock ticks down to the budget deadline.

The Ticking Clock of June 15

The critical deadline for passing the state budget is June 15, with the new fiscal year beginning on July 1. 

A young girl smiles while a healthcare worker applies a bandage to her arm in a medical office

Source: CDC/Unsplash

This deadline is crucial as it will determine whether or not protections for health insurance through Medi-Cal for children will continue or be cut.

Newsom's Strategy Under Fire

“Gov. Newsom said this budget lays out a long-term, multi-year strategy. Children’s health equity is always a multi-year strategy,” stated Mayra E. Alvarez of The Children’s Partnership.

Governor Gavin Newsom smiling, dressed in a blue suit and white shirt, outdoors with cars and a rocky hill in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Critics argue that the budget favors corporations over kids’ health.

Cutting Costs Without Raising Taxes

Newsom’s approach focuses on cutting spending by $19.1 billion while steering clear of new taxes.

Governor Gavin Newsom speaking passionately at a podium with a backdrop that reads "California Democrats,"

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Even when revenues were booming, we were preparing for possible downturns,” he stated, emphasizing a balance without burdening Californians.


The Impact of Coverage Loss

“Losing coverage—even temporarily—delays medical care, undermining healthy childhood development,” Alvarez pointed out.

A male nurse in blue scrubs and glasses smiles while a young girl, sitting on an exam table, playfully uses a stethoscope on him in a bright medical office

Source: freepik

The removal of enrollment barriers once helped stabilize access to care for millions, highlighting the breadth of what’s at risk.


Disproportionate Effects on Families of Color

The discontinuation of Medi-Cal affects children of color most, with Alvarez noting that 70% of the children on Medi-Cal are from these communities.

A pediatrician, a young white woman, uses a stethoscope to examine a small baby held by his grandmother

Source: freepik

The impact is profound, affecting access to essential health services.


Legislative Responses to the Crisis

In response to the crisis, California state Representative Tasha Boerner has stepped up with AB 2956.

Tasha Boerner Horvath speaks at a legislative session in a decorated room with other members seated, including a man and two women, while engaging in policy discussions

Source: asmtasha/X

The bill is aimed at safeguarding against disenrollments from Medi-Cal, indicating a legislative push to counterbalance executive budget cuts.


Medi-Cal's Broader Reach

15 million Californians depend on Medi-Cal for more than just emergency visits; it covers annual checkups, prescriptions, and more. 

The exterior of a Drug Mart Pharmacy showing the store sign illuminated above the entrance

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The current crisis threatens the very fabric of health security for a significant portion of the state’s population.


A Preservation of Obligations

“This is not a new investment but a preservation of the state’s existing obligations to Medi-Cal children,” Alvarez emphasized.

A doctor in a white coat uses a stethoscope to listen to the chest of a patient in a clinical setting

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The ongoing legislative debates focus on maintaining, not expanding, the reach of Medi-Cal amidst financial adjustments.


Nationwide Impact and Advice

As nationwide Medicaid coverage faces reductions after the pandemic, individuals find themselves unexpectedly uninsured.

A medical team, consisting of two male doctors and a female nurse, attends to a bald patient sitting on a hospital chair

Source: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Chris Fong, CEO of Smile Insurance, advises, “The best advice we can give is if someone finds themselves in the position where they have lost Medicaid is to immediately contact their state Medicaid agency, find out the reasons for the loss, and reapply if they still qualify.”