Press Stories

California Advances #Health4All Bills To Remove Exclusion Of Some Undocumented Immigrants In Medi-Cal

  • After success of recent Medi-Cal expansion of coverage to all children, SB 974 (Lara) and AB 2965 (Arambula) would further expand Medi-Cal to income-eligible young adult and senior populations, regardless of immigration status.
  • Expansions being negotiated in California State Budget negotiations; SB 974 now goes to Assembly policy committee; AB 2965 will next be heard in Senate policy committee. Bills are a key step in the #Care4AllCA agenda to win universal health care without the need for federal approval.

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, the California State Legislature took a bold and necessary step forward towards the goal of universal health care in our state by passing SB 974 (Lara) out of the Senate and AB 2965 (Arambula) out of the Assembly, to end the unfair exclusions of some populations in Medi-Cal based on immigration status. These bills would help another almost 150,000 Californians get access to necessary coverage and care, and improve the health and financial status of their families, and our communities and health system as a whole.

The Senate passed SB 974 by Senator Ricardo Lara to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible elder Californians (age 65 and over) regardless of immigration status. The Assembly voted to pass AB 2965 by Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula to expand Medi-Cal to all income-eligible young adult Californians (age 19 – 25) regardless of immigration status.

These bills mirror budget proposals in both the Senate and Assembly to expand Medi-Cal to these populations, ensuring that these bills also have financial backing from the state. If enacted, SB 974 and AB 2965 together with the pending budget asks, would take California one big step forward towards its goal of a more accessible, equitable, and universal health care system for all Californians.

“For too long, struggling immigrant communities have suffered and delayed seeking care due to exclusion from comprehensive Medi-Cal. Today our Senate and Assembly have listened to our urgent calls for inclusion, and voted in support of the core principle that health care is a right, not a privilege,” said Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, a co-chair of the #Health4All campaign. “From young adults who contribute to our workforce without access to preventative care, to our elders whose lives are cut short without basic health coverage, no Californian should have to suffer or die from a treatable condition, no matter their age or immigration status. We urge legislative leaders and Governor Brown to support today’s action and send a message that we can create a viable, inclusive, and equitable healthcare system in California.”

“In the context of our $100 billion Medi-Cal program, the modest investments proposed in the current bills and budget asks are less than a half of one percent, yet this modest change would have a hugely positive impact on the health and economic vitality of our health system and state,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, co-chair of the #Health4All campaign. “Our health care system is stronger when everyone is included. This expansion will not just help individual patients get the primary and preventive care they need, but also provide health and financial security to their families, the broader community, and the state and health system as a whole. These bills would take a major, tangible step to getting health care for all in California, an ambitious goal that is achievable without the need for federal approval. The Legislature has proven its commitment to universal coverage this year and we hope the Governor will follow their lead,” said Wright.

The bills have strong support from health consumer and provider organizations, and undocumented leaders and advocates from the #Health4All Coalition, whom have successfully helped win measures such as the 2016 expansion of Medi-Cal for undocumented children. The bills would build on the success of #Health4AllKids which has already provided comprehensive Medi-Cal for over 218,000 undocumented children.