Stanislaus County is offering another health care option for young children denied services from the state's Healthy Families program.
The Healthy Cubs program is for uninsured children as old as 5 and pregnant women. It covers the cost of primary, dental and prenatal care until participants can be enrolled in other programs.
Many families are trying to find coverage for their children since the state budget crisis prompted officials in July to establish a waiting list for Healthy Families. With the state program facing a $112.6 million funding shortfall in the budget year that started July 1, officials also could start removing children from Healthy Families on Oct. 1.
About 14,000 children in Stanislaus County are covered by Healthy Families, a program for children as old as 18 in working-poor families not eligible for Medi-Cal.
"We want families to know the (Healthy Cubs) program is here and health coverage is available for their children," said Maria Blanco, administrator for Stanislaus County's indigent health care program.
Healthy Cubs provides less coverage than Healthy Families. It doesn't include hospitalization or vision care, but it offers free primary care.
Young children and pregnant women can receive health care services at the six county health clinics: Golden Valley Health Centers and the Oak Valley Hospital District clinics in Oakdale and Riverbank.
Healthy Cubs usually has provided about 90 days of health services as parents apply to other programs, such as Medi-Cal or the Kaiser Permanente Child Health Plan. Children can stay in the program until their sixth birthday. Staff members help families find more comprehensive coverage, but Blanco expects families will stay in the program longer because of the limited options.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, program spending was under budget as families switched to other coverage, said John Sims, executive director of the Stanislaus County Children and Families Commission.
The commission has budgeted $850,000 for Healthy Cubs this year, with the funding coming from Proposition 10 tobacco taxes collected in California.
Families with incomes at 300 percent of the federal poverty level or less are eligible for Healthy Cubs. That would include a family of three with an annual income of $55,000 or less, or a family of four with annual income of $60,000 or less.
Parents fill out a one-page application, officials said.
Healthy Families got a boost this month from an $81.4 million contribution from the First 5 State Commission, which is intended to keep 200,000 children from losing or being denied coverage. More than 900,000 children are covered by Healthy Families statewide, and officials had estimated more than 650,000 children could be dropped from the program because of funding shortfalls.
The Managed Risk Medical Insurance Program in Sacramento, which runs Healthy Families, says it continues to look for funding and cost efficiencies so it won't have to drop so many children.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.