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California Healthline - Offering Health Coverage to Undocumented

Calif. Could Be Model for Offering Health Coverage to Undocumented

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Efforts by several California counties to provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants could serve as a model for other states,Kaiser Health News reports.

Background

As a state, California has taken several steps to provide health coverage to undocumented residents, according to KHN (Gorman, Kaiser Health News, 1/22).

Immigrants in the state who qualified for Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival initiative are eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

In addition, under an executive action by President Obama last year, Medi-Cal coverage could be extended to up to 500,000 undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and who have no record of felony offenses or serious misdemeanors (California Healthline, 1/12).

Further, a bill (SB 1005) being considered by the state Legislature would allow low-income undocumented immigrants to receive Medi-Cal coverage, while others with higher incomes could buy plans with state-funded subsidies.

Details of County Efforts

In several California counties, health officials have taken further actions to extend no-cost coverage to undocumented immigrants, allowing them to seek care at local clinics.

For example, Los Angeles County last year launched its $61 million My Health LA program, which pays community clinics to treat undocumented immigrants.

Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, said such local initiatives could lead to broader changes across the state. Wright said the county efforts could serve as "bridges to a statewide solution."

National Implications

Meanwhile, Randy Capps, director of research for the Migration Policy Institute, said, "If California goes out on a limb on this, it could have an impact on other states."

However, several states are likely to hold out on providing such coverage in the near future, according to KHN (Kaiser Health News, 1/22).



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