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Eliminating Healthy Families Might Not Save Money

Aired 6/26/12 on KPBS News.

Projected savings from eliminating the Healthy Families program might not pencil out.

— Democratic lawmakers say their decision to close the Healthy Families program and move children over to Medi-Cal will save the state money. But that might not be the case.

The shift of some 900,000 children from Healthy Families is projected to save about $13 million this year.

But, insurers pay a special tax that generates $183 million a year for Healthy Families. The tax expires on June 30th.

Nicole Evans, with the California Association of Health Plans, said insurers have supported the tax in the past.

"Because it was tied directly to the Healthy Families program, and helped support that program, especially in difficult budget years. If you decouple that managed care tax from the program, then we need to know a lot more, because the details matter," Evans said.

Republican lawmakers agree, and their support is crucial. A two-thirds majority vote is required to extend the tax.

A coalition of healthcare providers and children's advocates is urging lawmakers to keep Healthy Families intact.

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