Today, the California legislature and Governor Jerry Brown reached a budget deal for 2018-19. The deal includes investments on homelessness and to rebuild underfunded anti-poverty efforts, but failed to invest in preventative treatment and lifesaving care for low-income Californians excluded from care because of their immigration status. It also explicitly left out low-income working immigrant tax filers from accessing the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC). Though the California legislature moved forward “Health4All Elders” (SB 974 - Sen. Lara) and “Health4All Young Adults” (AB 2965 - Asm. Arambula), two bills and budget investments to remove immigration status as a barrier to Medi-Cal for low-income California elder and young adults, these budget investments ultimately were not included in the 2018-19 California budget. In response, the California Immigrant Policy Center issued the following statement:
“Today’s budget deal is devastating for the health of California. We are overwhelmingly disappointed that low-income Californians will continue to suffer from explicit exclusions from basic health care coverage and live-saving preventative care because of where they were born. Immigration status has not defined the incredible social, economic and cultural contributions that our communities have made in the state, yet the state’s policies continue to wield it as a barrier to critical health care and assistance. We commend our legislative champions, Assemblymember Arambula and Senator Lara, for working with legislative leadership to advance vital investments. This would have served as meaningful action to bring California closer to universal coverage and equity. Unfortunately the budget deal reached with Governor Brown abandons a legacy of unfinished work to advance equity and is a deeply missed opportunity to remove exclusions based on immigration status for parents, grandparents, and many other Californians whose health impacts their family’s well-being and stability.
We support the investments to rebuild poverty efforts, however, many of these investments continue to exclude Californians based on their immigration status - including the California Earned Income Tax Credit. Excluding vulnerable Californians from health care and critical assistance pushes struggling communities closer to financial ruin, widening health and economic disparities that undercut our values and hurt our state as a whole. In a state where one in six children has an undocumented parent, the urgency to safeguard the health and well-being of all Californians, regardless of their age or immigration status, is clear.
The budget deal reached fails to build on the groundbreaking wins from 2015 that provided access to comprehensive Medi-Cal for undocumented children. With ongoing attacks to immigrant communities, including the trauma of mass deportations and the fear of family separation, the well-being of caretakers, neighbors, and community members hangs in the balance.
The legacy of California’s next leaders should include taking bold action to create a health care system and safety net that works for all Californians, regardless of where they are born. Instead of just talking about universal coverage, our decision-makers should invest in taking inclusive steps forward. The future of California depends on ensuring that we remove unjust barriers to health care and critical assistance for all who call California home.”