Gavin Newsom offers healthcare to undocumented migrants

Speaking to teachers and students at Sunset Elementary School in Fresno in October, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $ 123.9 billion legislative package that includes record investments in public schools and promises preschool universal and seed money for college savings accounts for millions of students.

Speaking to teachers and students at Sunset Elementary School in Fresno in October, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $ 123.9 billion legislative package that includes record investments in public schools and promises preschool universal and seed money for college savings accounts for millions of students.

Fresno Bee File

Governor Gavin Newsom proposes to extend Medi-Cal coverage to all low-income and undocumented adults, a historic expansion that would make California the first state in the country to provide universal access to health care to all residents , regardless of their legal status.

The plan is included in Newsom’s $ 286 billion state budget proposal, which is a projected surplus of $ 45.7 billion.

Coverage would begin on January 1, 2024 and cost the state $ 2.7 billion per year. Launching the program in fiscal year 2023-24 is expected to cost $ 819.3 million.

“Here’s the big deal: California is poised to be – if this proposal is supported – the first state in the country to achieve universal access to health coverage,” he said during the announcement. Monday. “This means that Medi-Cal is comprehensive, including long-term care (home support services) and behavioral health for all low-income Californians, regardless of their immigration status.”

The governor’s proposal would fill a gap in health care coverage for undocumented Californians.

Currently, undocumented people are eligible for Medi-Cal up to the age of 26. Undocumented adults aged 50 and over will become eligible for Medi-Cal after May 1.

Newsom in June 2021 proposed an ongoing $ 1.3 billion spending plan to extend Medi-Cal coverage to adults and people aged 50 and over. Undocumented children received extended coverage in 2016 and young adults up to the age of 26 are also entitled to access health care under a plan adopted in 2020.

The state already offers Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented people of all ages for emergency medical services and prenatal and maternity care.

Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula D-Fresno, who has long advocated for the proposal, said it was “exciting” and “transformative.”

“Here in California, we are not following, we are leading,” he said Monday in an interview with The Bee. “Providing access to health care to our most vulnerable after this pandemic of the century is the absolutely appropriate response that we must adopt as a state. “

A former doctor, Arambula said he routinely serves undocumented patients who were late in receiving medical care due to their lack of medical coverage.

“What I would often find is that our undocumented community would seek care late or not at all, and often forgo much of the preventive health care that we know is so beneficial,” he said. declared. “When you don’t have access to health care, you get sicker and die sooner – that’s what I’ve seen with my own eyes. ”

Sarah Dar, director of health and public utility policy at the California Immigrant Policy Center, an immigrant rights organization, said the proposed plan would allow people to get regular exams and have access to medication. She said undocumented people are “taxpayers” and “are as much a part of California as anyone else.”

“We’ve really come to this place where everyone understands that fairness is important and why it doesn’t make sense to exclude people from our health care system,” she said. “People will have peace of mind knowing they are taken care of. “

But Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Red Bluff, opposed the proposal, arguing that it would allocate public money to “illegal” residents.

“It opens the door to a blank check for illegal individuals who have come to California,” Nielsen said.

Still, Devon Mathis Assembly Member R-Visalia said the proposal could help reduce costs to the healthcare system.

“Access to health care is vital, especially in underserved areas like our San Joaquin Valley,” he said in a statement. “When it comes to health care, we need to stop dividing our people and realize that we are one big community of friends and neighbors. To my friends who might disagree, I encourage you to look at your fiscally conservative roots and think this will lower the overall cost of our health care system.


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There are approximately 2 million undocumented immigrants in California, according to the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California. The state contains the largest number of undocumented migrants in the United States. U.S. state officials predicted last year that about 200,000 undocumented immigrants would be registered with Medi-Cal by the end of fiscal 2026.

Newsom’s spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 2022 focuses on five pressing challenges facing California residents, including COVID-19, climate change, homelessness, inequality and public safety, according to the plan. director.

This story was originally published January 10, 2022 11:29 a.m.

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Nadia Lopez covers the Latin community of the San Joaquin Valley for The Fresno Bee in partnership with Report for America. Prior to that, she worked as a City Hall reporter for San José Spotlight.