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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  
June 9, 2010

For More Information, Contact:
Phil Yost (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – The California State Senate has passed legislation, authored by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), to help county governments cover the growing number of California children who lack health insurance.

Senate Bill 1431 allows counties that provide children’s health insurance to obtain additional federal dollars and expand coverage to more uninsured children. The bill, passed on a 25-10 vote, now moves to the State Assembly.

Simitian’s bill is intended to assist County Health Initiatives currently under way in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties and San Francisco. However, Simitian is hopeful that increased access to federal funds will produce similar efforts in other counties.

“During tough times, families of modest means are especially hard hit, particularly those with kids,” said Simitian. “There is federal money on the table to give these at-risk kids the health insurance they need. And this bill gives participating counties a green light to access those funds.”

Senate Bill 1431 is sponsored by the County of San Mateo, which currently provides health insurance to 5,900 children living in low-income families. County officials estimate that Simitian’s legislation would bring additional federal funds to the county each year, and allow even more kids to be covered. “On a statewide basis,” said Simitian, “we can access million of federal dollars and help thousands of kids.”

“We appreciate Senator Simitian’s efforts,” said Jean Fraser, San Mateo County Health System Chief.  “This bill would enable communities like ours to sustain health coverage for children and leverage all available federal resources during a time of significant financial strain for families, the state, and local governments.”

SB 1431 updates California law to reflect changes made in the federal State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).  In 2009, the federal S-CHIP increased eligibility by lifting the cap on participants from 300% to 400% of federal poverty level.  Under SB 1431, counties would receive federal funds for those additional children who are provided health insurance.

The bill also allows counties to protect children currently receiving care under the state’s Healthy Families Program in the event that the State’s budget situation results in cutbacks in Healthy Families. 

The federal government currently contributes approximately two dollars for every dollar California spends insuring at-risk children through the Healthy Families Program. If state budget constraints force cuts to the Healthy Families Program, counties would be able to use their qualified health programs to cover those children – and keep the federal matching funds for providing that care.

“Health care is basic and essential,” Simitian said. “Accessing our fair share of federal dollars allows us to leverage the limited funding we do have at the state and local level, and to give more help to more kids.”

“First and foremost, I want insurance coverage for these kids,” said Simitian, “but I’m also trying to ensure that California has access to its fair share of federal funds.”

For more information on SB 1431, visit