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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 1/27/2010
Budget Issue: Caseload.
Program: Healthy Families Program
Finding or Recommendation: Recommend no caseload adjustment at this time.
Further Detail

Healthy Families Program

The Healthy Families Program (HFP) is California’s implementation of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health insurance for low–income children. California receives roughly two federal dollars for each state dollar used to provide health care coverage to about 900,000 children.

Governor's Proposal.  Current-year caseload estimates provided by MRMIB assume that HFP eligibility is reduced from 250 percent of the FPL to 200 percent of the FPL effective May 1, 2010.  Thus, caseload is assumed to drop by about 23 percent (by slightly over 200,000 children) by the end of the fiscal year.  If the Legislature does not take this action by March 1, 2010, caseload estimates will have to be adjusted accordingly for the current year.  The budget-year caseload estimate makes a similar assumption; it too would have to be adjusted to align with legislative action if the Legislature does not take action to lower eligibility by May 1, 2010.  

LAO Comment.  Accurate caseload estimates for HFP are particularly difficult to estimate at this point in the fiscal year, because the program was closed to new enrollment from mid-July through mid-September 2009. Since approximately 25,000 to 30,000 children enroll in HFP every month, the temporary program closure significantly impacted enrollment—and at this time, it is not clear how quickly caseload will rebound in response to the program re-opening.  Based on data available at this time, current caseload estimates appear to assume a slightly faster rebound in enrollment numbers in the current year than has actually occurred, and fairly aggressive caseload growth among the remaining eligible children for the budget year. 

LAO Recommendation. We recommend no adjustment to the HFP caseload.  We will provide an updated analysis of HFP caseload and any recommendations for caseload adjustments at the time of the May Revision, when several additional months of caseload data will be available.