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First 5 Commission Adds $81.4 Million to Healthy Families

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Aired 8/13/09

The First Five commission, which spends tobacco tax dollars under Proposition 10, says it will contribute $81.4 million to California's Healthy Families program.

— The First 5 commission, which spends tobacco tax dollars under Proposition 10, says it will contribute $81.4 million to California's Healthy Families program.

The state legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger cut health care coverage to low-income families this year when they eliminated close to $200 million from Healthy Families. Today, the First 5 Commission made up part of that shortfall with its contribution. The commission was created by Proposition 10, which increased tobacco taxes to pay for early childhood education and health services. Today's contribution must be spent on children ages 5 and under. First 5 executive director Kris Perry says kids that age make up about 30 percent of the children enrolled in Healthy Families.

"We hope very much that our contribution can forestall additional wait listing or dis-enrollment of children as soon as possible," says Perry.

The First 5 contribution comes on the same day that the board of the Children's Health Insurance Program announced it would start terminating Healthy Family coverage for kids in October as a result of budget cuts. Perry says her group's contribution comes from reserve funds so other Proposition 10 programs will stay fully funded.

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