Health for All Clears Crucial Assembly Fiscal Committee

August 27, 2015

SACRAMENTO, CA – A day after a poll was released finding that 58% of registered California voters support expanding health care access to undocumented Californians, Senate Bill 4 authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) continued its momentum by clearing the important Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill removes barriers to the health insurance market by directing the state to seek permission from the federal government to allow undocumented Californians to purchase their own health coverage through the Covered California Health Insurance Exchange. SB 4 also makes important changes to ensure successful implementation of the recent Health for All Kids budget action that will cover all income-eligible children under Medi-Cal.

“The momentum for health for all continues,” said Senator Lara. “We have made significant progress this year by expanding access to health care for all California kids and we will continue to grow this access for the adult population with Senate Bill 4. We must ensure that the remaining uninsured get the access to care they need to lead healthy lives. Today marks an important step forward in realizing this common sense goal.”

Through the recently enacted state budget, California expanded Medi-Cal eligibility to all children, regardless of immigration status.  An estimated 170,000 undocumented kids will now be eligible for health care coverage under Medi-Cal, beginning in May, 2016. Senator Lara amended Senate Bill 4 to focus on implementing this budget action while continuing the push to request a waiver so everyone can purchase coverage. Senate Bill 10, which will be held until next year, will include the provision to cover adults through a capped enrollment program and will be a priority for Senator Lara moving forward. 

Senate Bill 4 achieves three important goals:

•    Directs the state to apply for a federal waiver to allow undocumented Californians to buy health insurance with their own money through Covered California.
•    Ensures that kids currently enrolled in restricted scope emergency Medi-Cal will be transferred to full scope services within 30 days of the program being 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.

A Field Poll released on August 26, 2015 finds that “voter support for extending Medi-Cal services to the state's undocumented residents is gaining in popularity. At present, 58% of the state's registered voters favor this idea, while 39% are opposed. Last year a narrower 51% to 45% supported this proposal.”

SB4 now moves to the Assembly floor.