Some of the undocumented immigrants living in California will potentially be getting health care coverage if the state legislature signs off on the new budget plan.
They agreed to make adults between the ages of 19 and 25 eligible for the state’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal), applicable to people whose incomes are low enough to qualify for the program. State officials estimate the program will cover an additional 90,000 people.
Under California law, they must enact a budget by midnight on June 15 and if they sign off on it, California will become the first state to use taxpayer money to fund full health care coverage for undocumented immigrants. Governor Gavin Newsom proposed the deal but rejected a state Senate plan to include adults 65 and older since it would have cost $3.4 billion. The expansion will take effect Jan. 1, 2020 and cost $98 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
“California believes that health is a fundamental right,” said state Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat who led the budget negotiations told the Associated Press.
California was home to between 2.35 and 2.6 million undocumented immigrants in 2014 according to the Public Policy Institute of California, though there’s no way to verify the exact number.
Some documented immigrants are already enrolled for some government-funded programs, but they only cover emergencies and pregnancies.
Undocumented immigrants were excluded from the ACA provisions and comprise the largest segment of this group, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Access to healthcare can be the difference between life or death, as was the case with Lilian Serrano’s undocumented mother-in-law, Genoveva Angeles, who initially dismissed her stomach problems, blaming it on food.