The Irvine City Council last night unanimously approved a $40,000 annual contract extension with Volunteer Center Orange County to administer a health services program for the city’s children.

Mayor Sukhee Kang initiated the Irvine Children’s Health Program in 2008. According to a staff report, the program has helped find health insurance for 472 of 1,760 children in Irvine identified as lacking coverage.

Kang said the city first earmarked $200,000 to the program, but the city has only spent a total of $16,000 since the program began. Much of the program has been funded through grants from local medical groups, including Kaiser Permanente Community Programs, the Cancer Center of Irvine, and Bristol Park Medical Group.

In addition to continuing to steer the city’s uninsured children to various medical programs, beginning in 2011, the program will also help uninsured adults find coverage through Medi-Cal. The expansion of the program, which is run by Children’s Health Initiative of Orange County, is made possible by the healthcare reform bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law this year.

The council approved the contract after hearing the testimony of Angelica Vanegas, a Colombian immigrant who had two uninsured children before she was enrolled in the program. Venegas was a stay-at-home mom and tried to enroll her children for Medi-Cal but they failed to qualify.

“My children needed checkups, and I was very worried about it,” Venegas said.

She filled out a health insurance survey at a local library, and the program reached out to her. The program enrolled her children in Healthy Families, one of the state’s health insurance programs for children.

“I didn’t know about this program [Healthy Families], and I spent a lot of time researching,” Venegas said.

In other council action last night:

The City Council gave unanimous final approval to the Irvine Business Complex Vision Plan. Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea has misgivings about the developer fees associated with the plans but backed up an earlier vow not to fight the fees if the business community did not make any objections.

The council rejected the finance commission’s recommendation to raise public facility reservation fees for Irvine residents from 75 percent of facility rent cost to 100 percent.


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