February 5, 2019
Sacramento, CA — Today, researchers at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education unveiled a new report: “Towards Universal Health Coverage: Expanding Medi-Cal to Low-Income Undocumented Adults.”
The report identifies that 90% of undocumented adults do not have access to comprehensive health care coverage, leading to poorer health outcomes for families and communities. Researchers find that expanding Medi-Cal to all low-income adults regardless of immigration status would extend eligibility to approximately 1.15 million undocumented adults in 2020 and would close one of the biggest remaining coverage gaps in the state’s health care system, reducing the state’s uninsured population by as much as one-quarter.
Two #Health4All bills have been introduced in the state legislature to expand access to Medi-Cal for all income-eligible adults, regardless of immigration status, AB 4 (Arambula, Bonta, Chiu) and SB 29 (Durazo).
In reaction to the report’s findings, the California Immigrant Policy Center and Health Access California, co-chairs of the #Health4All campaign, issued the following statements:
“Undocumented Californians are a vital and inseparable part of our families and our communities, contributing powerfully to our state’s economic prowess. Yet, as this new study demonstrates, nine out of ten low-income undocumented adults lack health coverage – let alone affordable care. These same community members are more likely to lack a usual source of care than their citizen and documented neighbors,” said Cynthia Buiza, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center
“The report also projects that if the Trump administration’s cruel “public charge” rule is finalized, it would likely have a sizeable chilling effect on enrollment in Medi-Cal even if eligibility restrictions were lifted. This is alarming, particularly since the rule has not been implemented and does not directly impact Medi-Cal. This finding only furthers the cause of #Health4All in order to combat the Trump administration’s policies of fear-mongering and exclusion. California has been a leader in inclusion and we must continue to defend the principle that no one should suffer or die from a treatable condition – no matter where they were born,” said Buiza.
“This study shows that allowing undocumented adults to have the same eligibility requirements as their neighbors to get Medi-Cal coverage would reduce the ranks of uninsured in our state by up to a quarter. Expanding Medi-Cal regardless of immigration status is a crucial step towards the goal and benefits of attaining universal health care coverage in our state,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California.
“Exclusionary federal policies have built a virtual wall which cuts our undocumented neighbors off from live-saving health care. This report shows how we can apply our state’s values of compassion and inclusion to our health system, and in doing so make it stronger for everyone. Everyone benefits when everyone is covered. We are pleased Governor Newsom and our Legislature’s leadership have endorsed the concept of expanding Medi-Cal, regardless of immigration status. We need our political leaders to embrace, and follow-through, on the concept that our health system is stronger when everyone is included,” said Wright.