San Jose To Pay $3M in Insurance
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - City officials agreed Tuesday to contribute nearly $3 million of tobacco settlement money over the next three years to a new, unprecedented county plan to provide health care coverage for all uninsured children.
The commitment was a key step for the Santa Clara County Children's Health Initiative, which was approved last week and is expected to begin serving families in February.
The county program, which is expected to cost $14 million a year, will cover families earning up to three times the federal poverty level, meaning a family of four with income of nearly $52,000 is eligible.
``This is a momentous moment in history,'' said Susan Price-Jang, co-chair of People Acting in Community Together, which is helping to organize the program. ``Let us be an example to other communities across America.''
The program is designed to let parents know what local, state and federal health insurance programs their children qualify for, and to make up for any coverage gaps.
More than half the 70,000 children without health insurance in the county live in San Jose, the third-largest city on the West Coast.
San Jose had considered spending some of its $10 million in tobacco settlement money on a similar children's health insurance program.
But Mayor Ron Gonzales said Tuesday he was satisfied with an advisory committee's suggestion that the city contribute to the county health program and use the rest of the money for anti-tobacco programs, education programs and youth and senior services.
The City Council unanimously approved the plan.
In addition to the city's contribution and $3 million a year from Santa Clara County, the health insurance program will receive $2 million from tobacco taxes and $1 million from a county health maintenance organization. Organizers hope to make up the rest through donations.
Under the 1998 tobacco settlement, California and 45 other states will split $206 billion over 25 years. Four other states settled separately for $40 billion.