Bill To Protect the Health of Undocumented Californians Clears Key Health Committee

Sacramento, CA, April 10, 2019  – Yesterday evening, members of the Assembly Health Committee passed AB 4 (Bonta, Chiu, and Santiago), which would provide access to comprehensive Medi-Cal coverage for all low-income Californians, regardless of immigration status.

The bill is moving through the legislature at a time when the Trump administration’s policies have heightened a climate of fear and anti-immigrant rhetoric and harmed the physical and mental health of entire immigrant communities.

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Advocates from the Health4All Coalition pressed legislators on the urgent need to alleviate a growing health crisis and remove a barrier to eligibility for undocumented adults, who remain the single largest group of uninsured Californians. In fact, nine out of ten low-income undocumented adults lack comprehensive health coverage, let alone affordable care.

Governor Gavin Newsom has signaled a commitment to expand comprehensive Medi-Cal to low-income young adults from age 19 up to age 26. #Health4All advocates have stressed the importance of this action, but also the need to support all California’s diverse families, including mixed-status families with older undocumented family members and elders.

For college student Brenda Soto, whose mother suffered from appendicitis, having her main caregiver fall ill impacted the stability of her entire household.

“My mom’s recovery took two months, and she was not allowed to work during that time. Without my mom’s paychecks, my family really struggled financially,” said Brenda, who traveled from Riverside to Sacramento to provide her testimony to committee members. “While I appreciate Governor Newsom’s proposal to expand Medi-Cal for young adults, unfortunately that proposal will not alleviate the suffering and economic burden undocumented young people like myself face, if it does not address the needs of our parents and elders.”

Today’s vote to pass AB 4 marks the next vital, sensible, inclusive step to protect the health of Californians who have been left behind due to federal eligibility exclusions. Next, the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees will weigh in on both AB 4 and SB 29 in the coming weeks.

Started in 2014, the Health for All Coalition is comprised of advocacy groups, community groups, provider groups and policymakers working together to ensure that all Californians have access to quality, affordable health care, regardless of immigration status. The Coalition boasts membership from over 80 organizations across California representing immigrants, children, health care consumers, patients, providers, policy experts, academics and policymakers committed to improving access and removing barriers to quality health care for all Californians.

www.caimmigrant.org