Undocumented Children Eligible for Full Medi-Cal Starting Monday
Friday, May 13, 2016
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Starting Monday, about 170,000 undocumented children in California will be newly eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal insurance. It's part of the Health4AllKids program, extending coverage to children in low-income families who qualify.
Advocates are planning a big rally on the Capitol steps in Sacramento on Monday to celebrate.
Mike Odeh, associate director of health policy with the group Children Now, said it's a smart move to invest in more comprehensive and preventive care, rather than let health conditions worsen until kids are forced to seek treatment in the emergency room.
"Everyone in our community needs access to health-care services, especially kids, if we want a healthy, productive future of our state," Odeh said.
The coverage includes full medical, dental and mental-health services. State budget estimates for the expansion are about $20 million this year and $143 million as more families gradually sign up in the next fiscal year. Advocates now are pushing to extend coverage to all adults, also regardless of immigration status.
Opponents have said programs such as Health4AllKids are only encouraging more undocumented people to come to California. However, Odeh pointed out that Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Washington state and Washington, D.C., all have made similar moves - without that issue.
"I don't buy into that notion," he said. "Other states have expanded coverage of Medicaid to undocumented kids and I don't think we've seen this happening."
Some undocumented families who are eligible for coverage may be afraid of giving personal information to the state, but Odeh said the health applications won't be shared with immigration enforcement and won't affect anyone's future application for citizenship.
More information is online at health4allkids.org.
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