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Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts to 'Healthy Families' violate federal law

Three-year-old Daniel Abrams is comforted by his father after he received a vaccine shot on October 23, 2009 at the Balboa Sports Complex in Encino, California.
Three-year-old Daniel Abrams is comforted by his father after he received a vaccine shot on October 23, 2009 at the Balboa Sports Complex in Encino, California.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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Governor Schwarzenegger unveils his revised state budget this week. The number he presents will depend on how much — or how little — tax money the state collected in April.

Schwarzenegger might also have to revise proposed cuts to health programs for children.

In his January budget proposal, Gov. Schwarzenegger threatened to cut down the number of people eligible for Healthy Families — the state’s medical insurance for low-income Californians. He even suggested cutting the program completely.

Cutting Health Families back — or cutting it altogether — would have left up to 800,000 children without health coverage.

“Those things can’t happen” said Kelly Hardy of the nonprofit Children Now. At a Sacramento briefing last week, Hardy said federal law requires states to maintain a minimum guarantee of coverage.

“California is essentially required to hold the line on children’s coverage programs through 2019,” Hardy explained.

That’s when the federal government will do most of the heavy health care lifting. And if California doesn’t “hold the line,” it loses out on $26 billion in federal funds.

“And that’s billion with a “B,” Hardy emphasized.

Hardy says federal law also prevents California from freezing enrollment in Healthy Families like it did last year. She says the two-month freeze left 50,000 children without health coverage.

Childrens health care advocates say they want the governor to restore money for outreach workers who enroll low-income Californians in state and federal health care programs.

California has 1.5 million uninsured children. Health care advocates estimate that 900,000 qualify for assistance — but their parents don’t know it.