News

Administration targets child medical care, welfare, obesity

Few areas of state government touch the lives of Californians as personally
and directly as the programs and services of the Health and Human Services
Agency. Recognizing this reality, Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget and our
Agency’s work is guided by a five-point vision that promotes access to
affordable health care coverage, supports children in safer, more stable and
permanent homes, promotes the ability of residents to make healthier food
choices and live active lives, supports seniors and persons with
disabilities to live and participate in their communities, and seeks to
protect residents against natural and intentional disasters.

The Governor has continuously protected access and eligibility to vital
health and human services programs. His current budget proposal increases
overall health care spending by more than a billion dollars. And, in
recognition of the imperative to contain costs in the context of on-going
structural deficits, the Governor proposes a number of program reforms and
cost containment strategies to control program costs so we can protect
services for this generation, as well as future generations, of Californians
in need.

While the Governor’s broad vision for health and human services will not be
achieved overnight, progress can be made through targeted strategies
reflecting important priorities. This vision is reflected in the Governor’s
proposed policy and budget recommendations.

First, the Governor has placed a priority on promoting the health of our
youngest residents. More than half of the estimated 800,000 uninsured
children in the state are eligible for existing no-cost and low-cost state
insurance programs. The Governor’s budget includes more than $72 million to
maximize enrollment in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs by expanding
outreach, streamlining the application process and ensuring eligible
children stay in these programs.

Second, while California has implemented significant changes in the state’s
child welfare services system in recent years to promote the safety,
well-being and permanency of children, more work remains. The Governor’s
Budget invests more than $19 million to implement bipartisan legislation
enacted last session to improve the health and well-being of children
entrusted to the state’s care and build upon existing foster care reforms.

Third, more than 50 percent of California’s adults are at risk of being
overweight or obese, approximately one in three children in California are
overweight or at risk of overweight and almost 40 percent of school-aged
children are unfit.

The Administration is committed to shifting the tide in this epidemic.
Through concrete and groundbreaking action, the Governor is leading the
fight against California’s obesity epidemic. Last year, he convened a
first-of-its-kind Summit, bringing business, government and community
leaders together in a sustained effort to help Californians make healthy
food choices and live active lives. In addition, he signed landmark
legislation to take junk food and sugary beverages out of schools and infuse
more fruits and vegetables in school meal programs. The Governor’s Budget
builds upon the momentum of the Summit by providing an increase in funding
for physical education in schools, which will address critical problems
identified during the Summit, including a significant decline in the level
of physical activity and reduced focus on physical education in schools.

Fourth, the Governor also fought to empower seniors and persons with
disabilities so they may live in their communities, supporting their
rightful independence and keeping them near loved ones. Most recently, the
Governor, along with the Legislature, took emergency action to protect
low-income seniors and persons with disabilities in the transition to
federal prescription drug coverage. The Governor would not allow this
vulnerable population to become the victims of the federal government’s
failure and stepped in to have the state as the payer of last resort so that
no dual eligible Medi-Cal Medicare patient leaves the pharmacy without the
life-saving prescription drugs they need.

Finally, the Governor has made emergency preparedness one of his highest
priorities. Preparing to prevent and respond to disasters is the
responsibility of all Californians – employers, schools, communities,
families and individuals–and government must play a key role. Recognizing
that the state’s public health agencies are on the front lines of an
emergency, the Governor’s proposes more than $62 million in new current and
budget year spending to bolster state and local public health capacity to
prevent and respond to disease outbreaks, such as avian influenza, and
natural or intentional disasters. The Governor believes we must act now to
enhance preparedness, especially in the area of pandemic influenza. He
therefore has proposed current year funding to bolster local health
preparedness and response capabilities and to allow the state to purchase
antiviral medications, increase laboratory capacity, strengthen state
disease surveillance and enhance public outreach and education. Combined,
the current and budget year investments substantially enhance the key
components of public health emergency preparedness and response, including
planning, disease surveillance, prevention and response, risk communication
and enhancing our health care delivery system’s ability to expand quickly to
meet increased needs during an emergency.

The Governor is dedicated to ensuring all Californians – from newborns to
the elderly – have access to essential health and human services programs.
We will continue our efforts to promote the health and well-being of a
growing and increasingly diverse California and to work with our many
partners in individual and collective efforts on behalf of the people of
California.


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