With the June election right around the corner, it seems overwhelming to be thinking about November’s election. Not so for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, who just this morning approved a measure for the November ballot designed to save the county’s Healthy Kids insurance program.
“That passes unanimously, and the campaign has begun,” said President Ken Yeager after the votes came in.
The measure will require two-thirds voter approval to pass a $29 parcel tax. After a number of large foundations decided to discontinue their funding of Healthy Kids, the program is facing a $3 million shortfall in 2011 in addition to other funding cuts. Since its inception in 2001, Healthy Kids has provided coverage to 37,000 children – 97 percent of county children now have medical, dental and vision coverage as opposed to 1 out of 8 prior to the program. The parcel tax is expected to raise $13.5-14 million.
Hand in hand with its funding woes, the program has increasingly struggled to meet demand. Kathleen King, executive director of Santa Clara Family Health Foundation, says without the tax “we will only be able to cover half as many in 2012 as in 2006. We’ll be forced to dis-enroll children for the first time.” The waiting list for Healthy Kids has been closed for some time. “[The tax will provide] a sustainable funding source for the Healthy Kids program for the next decade. This is the next phase in the development of this program,” said King.
David Metz of FM3, a public opinion research firm, showed polling that indicated the measure could pass with a slim margin – or lose by one. Though Supervisor Liz Kniss expressed some concern about the success of a tax measure in the current recession, she said, “I don’t think any of us are opposed to this.”
The vote proved as much.