NU Online News Service, Jan. 23, 5:45 p.m. – The California Assembly Health Committee is considering A.B. 30, a bill that would require the California Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board to open the state’s Healthy Families Program to low-income, childless workers, if the state can get permission from the federal government to do so.

The bill was introduced by Assembly Member Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills, Calif.

The Healthy Families Program is the California version of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The federal government has made CHIP funds available to states to help them insure more children by expanding Medicaid programs, starting new government programs, or working with commercial insurers.

California officials have made some effort to encourage commercial insurance agents and brokers to help eligible families sign up for the Healthy Families Program.

“Existing law authorizes the expansion of the program to uninsured parents or other adults responsible for children enrolled in the program subject to approval of a federal waiver making available federal funds for that purpose and appropriation of requisite state matching funds,” Richman writes in the bill text.

Opening the Healthy Families Program to childless workers should help the state reduce the amount it spends to support the state’s public hospitals and other public health facilities, Richman argues.

The text of the bill is on the Web at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_30&sess=CUR&house=B&author=richman