Today, the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board will hold the saddest of its monthly public meetings.
That’s a high bar: last month, they closed the door to new enrollments, instituted a “waiting list” which is really just a euphemism for denying coverage to 350,000 children over the next year.
But this meeting will be even tougher. With a $194 million shortfall due to the budget signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Tuesday (which includes $50 million that he did through a controversial line-item veto), the board may have to take even more drastic steps–to kick hundreds of thousands of children off of coverage.
It is projected that over 900,000 children would be denied coverage–doubling the number of uninsured children in California, undoing a decade of progress.
The San Jose Mercury News editorial board sums up the issues with appropriate disdain. The Governor and Legislature appropriately criticized insurers from rescinding coverage from patients, but their action here is as bad, yanking coverage during a bad economic time when such coverage is probably needed most. Coverage that won’t be there during when you need it is no longer coverage. If Healthy Families starts disenrolling children from coverage, it fundamentally alters the program forever.
MRMIB will review options, including if any money can come from other sources like the First Five Commission, or from insurers who participate in the program. But the outlook is grim.