California becomes state with the largest immigrant population to provide health care coverage to undocumented children
SACRAMENTO, CA – Governor Jerry Brown announced today the signing of Senate Bill 4, the Health for All Kids Act by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) that builds off of the Health for All Kids Budget action this summer to provide coverage to all of California’s undocumented immigrant children. California will become the state with the largest immigrant population to provide health care coverage to low-income undocumented children.
“When I began the effort to expand health care coverage to undocumented Californians, many people said it couldn’t get done,” said Senator Lara. “Just a year later, we are covering all undocumented children, becoming the largest state to do so. This is a tremendous victory that will send a message across the country that says compassion should always trump bigotry when we’re talking about our immigrant population. But we’re not done. We still have work to do to cover the remaining uninsured. This major victory for the health of our state is only a down payment on achieving true health for all.”
Senator Lara at Gardner Health Services in San Jose with Kids who will benefit from the Health for All kids Act, Senate bill 4
Through the recently enacted state budget action initiated by Senator Lara, California expanded Medi-Cal eligibility to all children, regardless of immigration status with a $40 million allocation and $132 million each subsequent year. An estimated 170,000 undocumented kids will now be eligible for health care coverage under Medi-Cal, beginning in May, 2016.
Senate Bill 4 was amended from its previous version to focus on the seamless transition from limited scope Medi-Cal to full scope Medi-Cal for all qualifying children come May 1, 2016. This bill is the first in the Health for All Legislative Package.
Senate Bill 10, which will advance next year, is the second bill in this package and will include the provision to cover adults through a capped enrollment program and requests a Federal waiver so that immigrants can purchase health care through Covered California.
Senate Bill 4:
• Clarifies that kids currently enrolled in restricted scope emergency Medi-Cal will not be required to submit a new application when they transition to full-scope coverage.
• Ensures that kids currently enrolled in restricted scope emergency Medi-Cal will be transferred to full scope services immediately, as soon the program is operational (May 1, 2016).
• Ensures that kids with serious medical conditions that require specialist care who are being newly enrolled in the program will be properly evaluated and referred.
Advocates react to the news:
“This bill will make it easier for children to get enrolled, helping not just specific families, but the health system we all rely on,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “The bill is another step and additional momentum toward the goal of health for all Californians, regardless of immigration status. At the state and county level, Californians increasingly recognize that our health system is improved when everyone has access to primary and preventive care, rather than just episodic and emergency care.”
"The Governor’s signing of SB 4 is more good news for California families with undocumented children and marks another step on the journey toward achieving Health for All. We hope the momentum from this year's budget and today's signature will bring us closer to expanding health care to undocumented adults who remain excluded from care. No one should suffer or die from a treatable condition, no matter where they were born." - Reshma Shamasunder, Executive Director, California Immigrant Policy Center
Senator Ricardo Lara was elected in 2012 to represent the 33rd Senate District, which includes the cities and communities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Long Beach, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, South Gate, South Los Angeles, Vernon, and Walnut Park.