Health Care Access & Coverage
Children should be able to get the health care they need, when they need it, from a local provider who speaks their language. In order for that to happen, affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage must be linked to a robust network of doctors, specialists, dentists, and other providers. When children have timely access to the complete range of critical health care services – including preventive screenings, immunizations, dental, mental, vision, and hearing care – they have more opportunity to succeed in school and in life.
California should provide every child with affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage.
Nearly all children are required to be enrolled in health coverage by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The state should help enroll all eligible children in health insurance by:
- Streamlining the eligibility and enrollment system for children;
- Reducing “churn” in health coverage programs by making it easier for children to stay covered;
- Supporting efforts by providers and community-based organizations to educate and connect families to coverage opportunities.
The state needs to prioritize the funding of public health insurance programs to ensure that children get the care these programs are intended to deliver. Over half of all California children are covered by Medi-Cal, so it is more important than ever to ensure the program delivers quality care.
California should also promote children’s timely access to the complete range of critical health care services, including preventive screenings, immunizations, dental, mental, vision, and hearing care.
Increase access to preventive screenings and services:California should leverage federal dollars from the ACA’s prevention and public health fund to increase the availability of preventive health care services, such as screenings.
Increase the percentage of children who receive evidence-based immunizations:The state should bolster its immunization programs, including developing an outreach campaign to educate and inform parents about the importance, recommended timing, and availability of immunizations and screenings.
Improve children’s access to oral health care:California should pursue all available federal funding opportunities to strengthen existing programs and create new ones to improve the oral health of the state’s children, especially those programs focused on addressing dental disease prevention, investing in state infrastructure, and improving dental data collection. The state should also restore the school-based sealant program, incentivize pediatricians to explain the importance of routine pediatric dental care to parents, and expand the use of tele-dentistry to reach underserved child populations, especially those in rural areas.
Improve the delivery of mental health services to children:To help fight the growing, costly, and potentially tragic epidemic of poor mental health among children, the state should require that improvements be made in the delivery of and follow-up for mental health services provided by the health plans that contract with the state, as well as coordination with primary care networks and providers. California should also work with counties to effectively leverage funds generated by the Mental Health Services Act, emphasizing early intervention programs.