The story at a glance
- California will offer state-subsidized health insurance to all undocumented immigrants starting in 2024.
- The state recently began expanding its Medi-Cal program, providing state-subsidized health insurance for people under 26 and over 50.
- The expansion is expected to cover an additional 700,000 undocumented Californians.
California will become the first state to offer all undocumented immigrants, regardless of age, state-subsidized health insurance. It is expected to go into effect in 2024 and will make California the first state to achieve universal access to health coverage.
The historic movement was part of Governor Gavin Newsom (D) State budget allocation 2022-2023, which includes the expansion of the state’s Medi-Cal program. This provides state-funded health insurance to eligible residents and will now cover an additional 700,000 undocumented residents aged 26-49 from 1 January 2024 at the latest.
Medi-Cal already provides coverage for undocumented immigrants if they are under 26, over 50, or are recipients of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Medi-Cal’s expansion is expected to lead to the biggest drop in the rate of uninsured Californians in a decade. Undocumented Californians are the largest group of the uninsured in the state, with the University of California Berkley Labor Center projecting that almost 1.3 million people under the age of 65 are uninsured in 2022 alone.
State Senator María Elena Durazo hailed Medi-Cal’s expansion as a fiscal victory and said the state was “one step closer to ending the outdated and discriminatory policy that keeps undocumented Californians out of ‘access affordable health care,'” Durazo said. in a report posted on his Twitter account.
“This is a victory for the millions of undocumented Californians who contribute $3.7 billion in state and local taxes and more than $40 billion in purchasing power to our economy each year.”
According to an estimate per the California Office of the Legislative Analyst (LAO), extending Medi-Cal to eligible undocumented immigrants will cost $2.1 billion on an ongoing basis.
Although California becomes the first state to offer health insurance coverage to nearly all undocumented immigrants residing in the state, other states have also taken similar steps.
In 2020, Illinois expanded state-funded health care to undocumented low-income people age 65 and older. The state also has law Project which would provide state-subsidized health insurance to undocumented immigrants between the ages of 19 and 54 and living at or below 133% of the federal poverty level.
Oregon has also proposed the All Persons Coverage Act which would extend its state-sponsored health insurance to all adults who qualify for Medicaid but for their immigration status.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KKF) found that non-citizen immigrants are as likely as citizens to be working, but are much more likely to be uninsured due to limited access to both public and private coverage.
Posted on June 29, 2022