A group of San Francisco youth rallied in front of City Hall today, protesting proposed cuts to a state program providing health insurance to low-income teens and children.
Facing a $90 million general fund budget shortfall in the next fiscal year, and with the governor and Legislature proposing further reductions, the Healthy Families Program began a waiting list today for new enrollments. The program offers low-cost health, dental and vision insurance for those who do not qualify for Medi-Cal.
“A lot of our members are directly impacted by some of these budget cuts that are happening,” said Emily Lee, youth organizer for the Chinese Progressive Association, a San Francisco-based group serving the city’s immigrant community.
The group says an estimated 350,000 new applicants to the program statewide might now be deferred.
Lee was also worried as many as 6,000 children in San Francisco might lose coverage from the program, placing a burden on San Francisco’s own low-cost insurance program, Healthy San Francisco.
“It’s going to be a system overload, if we’re expecting 6,000 more kids to get into that,” she said.
Stephen Leung, 16, another youth organizer with the association, said Healthy Families has allowed him access to prescription eyeglasses and an asthma inhaler.
“Without it, it would be a serious economic burden on my parents,” Leung said.
Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Mary Maddux-Gonzalez said today thousands of children in Sonoma County will be denied health insurance because of the enrollment freeze in the state-run Healthy Families program.