Proposed Healthcare Coverage for Immigrants in California

  • Feb 7 2018

What is the new healthcare proposal to protect immigrants in California?

Understanding the importance of providing healthcare to the large number of immigrants living in California without proper documentation, Democratic lawmakers have recently proposed spending expansively to meet the need of these unprotected residents of our state. They feel that this is a good time for such a proposal since the economy has revived. Though their proposal would eventually require $1 billion, these legislators feel that this would be money well spent. If you are one of those with a vulnerable immigration status, having a knowledgeable, compassionate immigration attorney, whatever legislation is in place, is essential to protect the well-being of yourself and your family.

The proposal in question would make some important changes in healthcare regulations. For one thing, it would eliminate the legal residency requirements that now exist for participation in California’s Medi-Cal program, a step that has already been taken for people under the age of 19. This measure would be part of the $4.3 billion of spending proposed by Assemblyman Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat who presently is the head of the budget committee.

Even though California substantially reduced the percentage of its population that is uninsured when former President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan went into effect, some 7 percent of California residents are still without coverage. Most of these uninsured people are ineligible for U.S. healthcare because they are residing in the country illegally.

Other alterations the Assembly Democrats want to make include:

  • Expanding a tax credit for the working poor
  • Boosting eligibility for preschool and child care
  • Increasing college scholarships to reduce reliance on student loans
  • Committing $3.2 billion more to state budget reserves than is presently required

The Assembly proposal described is expected to bring about at least 6 months of budget negotiations with both the Senate and Governor Jerry Brown. Brown, in spite of the fact that he is on the same side of the aisle as the Assemblyman making the proposal, has thus far been reluctant to commit to increased ongoing spending on social services.

Although federal funds now cover at least half — and sometimes as much as 95 percent — of the costs of U.S. residents on Medi-Cal, California would have to fund the healthcare for its own residents who live here without proper papers.

Liberal California activists fought last year to expand state-funded healthcare access to everyone in the state, no matter when or under what circumstances they entered the country.

As one might expect, this provoked strong dissension. Eventually, this measure was dropped when Assembly Speaker Rendon stated that it was lacking in specifics and needed a detailed plan for the $400 billion it proposed to spend.

In an attempt at compromise, the new Assembly proposal is narrower in scope, expanding the state Medi-Cal only to include low-income adults. This, of course, in the opinion of many, does not go far enough to protect the immigrants in the community. As if it weren’t enough to have the fear of deportation hanging over their heads, many members of this community live in fear that medical bills for themselves of their family members will make unable to work and/or survive in their adopted country.

Posted in: Immigration Law