California Assembly passes bill expanding Medi-Cal to adult undocumented immigrants

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Credits: Healthy California website

The California State Assembly approved a bill expanding the state’s public health insurance program known as Medi-Cal to adult undocumented immigrants.

Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula is the primary sponsor of AB 4, which passed with a 51-17 vote on Tuesday. The legislation is now moving to the state Senate.

Assemblyman Arambula strongly believes that every person in California must have access to health care regardless of their immigration status.

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California is a step closer to achieving its goal to provide health care for all

“Health care is a human right. ALL Californians should have the right to health care, regardless of immigration status. I am proud that in California we are tearing down barriers for our immigrant families, not building them. AB 4 will help achieve Health for All,” he said in a post on Facebook.

On the other hand, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, co-sponsor of the bill, commented, “Health care is a right, not a privilege; for all, not the few. By providing health care to undocumented Californian adults, AB 4 helps move us closer to our vision of universal health care. As a joint author of AB 4, I’m proud to see this important legislation pass the Assembly floor.”

California is already providing Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented children under the program “Health4AllKids.” More than 250,000 undocumented children are benefiting from it.

Key details of the legislation

Currently, almost three million Californians don’t have health insurance coverage despite the implementation of Affordable Care Act (ACA). Around 58% of the estimated uninsured Californians are adult undocumented immigrants.

Under AB 4, an individual who does not have satisfactory immigration status or unable to establish an immigration status… shall be eligible for the full scope of Medi-Cal benefits, if they are otherwise eligible for benefits…”

If signed into law, Californians of all ages will be eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal benefits regardless of their immigration status. The bill would also “delete provisions delaying eligibility and enrollment.”

Additionally, “The bill would condition the implementation of its provisions on an appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act or other measure for that purpose.”

The Medi-Cal program is partly funded by the federal government through the Medicaid program.

“Federal law prohibits payment to a state for medical assistance furnished to an alien who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence or otherwise permanently residing in the United States under color of law,” according to the bill.